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Meet Some Heroes: The Wounded Blue and an Opportunity for Future Leaders

American Peace Officer

Ronald Clee

APR 16, 2024

Eureka, NV – The first day of the conference here in Nevada was facilitated by Randy Sutton and Bob Bemis of The Wounded Blue. I’m familiar with Randy from his time on COPS tv show from the early nineties and more recently from his frequent appearance on the LEO Round Table, a daily radio show/podcast hosted by Chip DeBlock. Over the years, I’ve appreciated his viewpoints as a guest on Fox News. I considered myself well versed on The Wounded Blue and their mission.

Despite having reasonable expectations on the presentations, I was prepared to be an attentive conference guest. I was pleasantly surprised by an outstanding presentation full of facts that are vitally important to the policing profession.

Varying levels of benefits

When I transferred to the investigations division in 2001, I was frequently assigned light-duty officers who were either on the road to recovery or medical retirement. They frequently discussed their status and how their cases were progressing. Unlike the local sheriff’s office, our police department’s disability pension was especially generous where officers who could no longer serve in full capacity would be granted a tax-free pension and healthcare coverage. I witnessed on occasion a decision-making process by the officers as they weighed their options very seriously. Meanwhile, at the sheriff’s office, a deputy who was shot and paralyzed rolled himself into work every day in a wheelchair.

Both presenters laid down some eye-opening facts. To be clear, I am including fire, corrections, and EMS, but tens of thousands of first responders are seriously injured every year. Not all are the result of criminal actions, but some will even include long term or short term exposure causing serious illness and health damage. We recognize and think about the officers and deputies who lose their lives every year but too often we don’t even hear about those seriously injured.


The Public Safety Officer Benefit (PSOB)

Likely the most shocking fact shared was how many officers miss out on the DOJ Office of Justice Programs Public Safety Officer Benefit. This is a fund that pays out death benefits of approximately $430,000 to the survivors when an officer has a line of duty death. Few people, myself included, knew that this is a benefit for officers who suffer a catastrophic on-duty injury. Many don’t even hear about the program until the three-year deadline has passed. This benefit doesn’t even have a local fiscal impact but many command staffs don’t even know that this applies to injuries. The Wounded Blue has helped about a thousand officers and their families seek this compensation, many successfully, from the federal government.


Randy Sutton and Bob Bemis


Next-gen leadership can turn this around

Hearing how The Wounded Blue has benefited 15,000 injured officers and their families in its first five years inspired the following thought. Leadership must be practiced at all ranks and I encourage the younger officers and sergeants to get together and discuss how their organization is going to provide compensation for injured officers among other services. An officer was gravely injured, shot in the head by a suspect but still alive. When he required therapeutic care out of town, though he was still receiving his paycheck, without financial assistance his wife couldn’t afford to stay nearby. These considerations ought to be reviewed by the rising generation and determined, in advance, what standard of care and compensation they should receive should any range of injury occur to themselves and their fellow officers.

Why ask the next generation to take on this project? Current and past policing leadership has been very generous in making the promise to take care of those who risk their wellbeing to keep the community safe, but not all those promises have been kept. Let those who still patrol the streets craft a system that is just and fair. I’m certain The Wounded Blue will be happy to help.

Please keep all our officers in your prayers!


Roland Clee served a major Florida police department as a Community Service Officer for more than 26 years. His career included uniformed patrol, training, media relations, intelligence, criminal investigations, and chief’s staff. He writes the American Peace Officer newsletter, speaks at public safety, recruiting, and leadership conferences and helps local governments and public safety agencies through his business, Command Staff Consulting. His work is frequently featured on, the only law enforcement owned major media player in the public safety realm.

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