SACRAMENTO — The Orange County deputy sheriffs’ union president, in a Monday interview with the Orange County Register, made a shockingly cynical statement about the men and women he represents. His words probably were meant as a rhetorical device to muscle county taxpayers into paying some controversial workers’ compensation claims, but I was nonetheless floored by what Tom Dominguez was quoted saying.
“The county has to be very cautious in these cases,” Dominguez told the newspaper. “If they deny the claims, then the message that they’re sending to their peace officers is not to take action when it is certainly warranted.”
Dominguez was referring to four unnamed county deputies who attended country singer Jason Aldean’s Oct. 1 concert in Las Vegas, where a gunman murdered 59 people and injured 527 others. The deputies were on their personal time and were in Clark County, Nevada, not Orange County, California, yet they argue that California residents should pay for their physical and psychological injuries.
Like most government employees, Orange County deputy sheriffs receive extremely generous medical, sick leave, disability and vacation benefits. Their injuries should be covered given that they weren’t at the concert for work. But these deputies seek the extra benefit of workers’ compensation, which preserves their accumulated leave and allows longer periods of paid time off.
The newspaper didn’t have details of the particular claims, but noted that “several Orange County deputies at the Route 91 Harvest festival quickly assumed life-saving roles — protecting the perimeter of the area with a shotgun in one case and administering medical care in other instances.” When the shooting began, they used their skills to help out. They deserve to be applauded for their efforts in such a tense situation. Good for them.