The widow of Craig Tiger, a Phoenix police officer who took his own life, is grateful for the new law that will help other first responders across the state have better access to mental professionals.
Doctors diagnosed Tiger with PTSD connected to an on-the-job officer-involved deadly shooting.
His family and the Arizona Police Association had been critical of how Phoenix Police handled the situation and believe the department could've and should've done more to prevent the tragedy.
Rebecca Tiger held back tears as Gov. Doug Ducey ceremoniously signed H.B. 2502, also known as the "Officer Craig Tiger Act."
"Craig's death was not in vain. I wanted something positive to come out of his death," said Rebecca.
The new law expands the current Traumatic Event Counseling Program.
It allows police officers, corrections officers, probation officers and firefighters suffering from job-related PTSD up to 36 covered licensed counseling sessions which is a recommendation by mental health professionals.
It also protects first responders' pay and benefits, allowing them to still get paid while receiving treatment.
The new bill also mandates agencies to report statistics to the state so there can be a better understanding on how widespread the problem may be.
"They don't have to fight the stigma, try to prove that they have this invisible injury. It's recognized as an injury and now they can have on-duty treatment without the loss of pay," she explained.
"It's a duty-related line-of-duty injury which should be addressed as such and that's what this bill focuses on," said Joe Clure, executive director of the Arizona Police Association. "It won't cost them any more than they're obligated to pay just like any other line-of-duty injury. The truth is we don't know (how much it could cost departments)."
Rebecca had been pushing for this legislation for more than three years and also believed her ex-husband's mental health injury should've been recognized like a physical one.
"I'm grateful that we've come to today that nobody will have to fight for treatment and not have to face the same stigma that Craig did," she said. "I don't want to see anyone else lose their life."
The bill sponsored by Rep. Paul Boyer was signed by the governor in April.
The "Officer Craig Tiger Act" goes into effect Aug. 3.
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