STATEHOUSE — A bill sponsored by State Sen. Joe Zakas (R-Granger) recently passed the Senate 49-0.
House Enrolled Act 1244 would ensure law enforcement officers are provided health protections when exposed to blood and bodily fluids while performing their official duties.
Currently, law enforcement officers are eligible for notification concerning exposure to a dangerous communicable disease only when the incident occurred while providing emergency medical services. These protections do not apply when interacting with an injured suspect when they perform regular law enforcement duties.
“Our law enforcement officers face constant dangers as they carry out their duties,” Zakas said. “We must make sure our officers have the best possible care available to them and know we support them in their work to make our communities safe places for all of us.”
Law enforcement officers can request to be notified of test results by filing a form with the appropriate medical director, their employer and the Indiana State Department of Health. Law enforcement officers could then provide a copy of the authorized request to an emergency department within 48 hours of exposure.
HEA 1244 is supported by the St. Joseph County Police Department. “All first responders run the risk of exposure to potentially harmful biological substances,” Police Legal Advisor to the St. Joseph County Police Department, Eric Tamashasky said. “HEA 1244 ensures that law enforcement officers who encounter these dangers while acting in any law enforcement capacity have the same access to information other first responders do.”
State Rep. Dale DeVon (R-Granger), who authored the bill in the House of Representatives said the bill would expand the law to include all law enforcement official duties, as well as ensure the officer does not incur any associated testing costs.
“Notification of exposure to a communicable disease in a timely manner is often essential to taking preventive measures and beginning a treatment regimen,” DeVon said.
HEA 1244 will be sent to Gov. Eric Holcomb’s desk for consideration.