The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund reports that an average of 55,054 police officers suffer assaults in the line of duty each year. Some of these injuries physically or mentally affect the officers’ ability to return to their jobs.
Most times, officers who receive workers’ compensation for these injuries are also eligible for vocational rehabilitation to help them return to work.
Workers’ compensation is a form of insurance that provides wage replacement and medical benefits to employees who get hurt on the job. Vocational rehabilitation is one of the benefits that this insurance provides. It is especially helpful when the employees must find a different type of job.
A judge evaluates an officer’s injuries and decides whether he or she is eligible for workers’ compensation. Typically, eligible injuries are those that impede the ability to perform the essential duties of law enforcement. These can include psychological trauma or chronic health problems.
Vocational rehabilitation often includes the following services:
- Advice about careers
- Help finding a job
- On-the-job training
- Programs to learn new skills
All these services have the goal of helping officers get back to work in some capacity.
Vocational rehabilitation programs are not one-size-fits-all. Injured officers receive customized plans that consider their unique skills, limitations and interests. These plans might involve training for administrative roles within law enforcement. They may also include community outreach positions or different career paths outside law enforcement.
Successful programs for injured officers are collaborative. When rehabilitation counselors, healthcare professionals and law enforcement agencies work together, there is a smoother transition back into the workforce.