B.C. transit cop to get workers’ compensation for off-duty heroics

Application for workers’ compensation was initially denied because he wasn’t working when injured but appeal tribunal recognized officer’s oath applies all the time

A British Columbia transit cop who suffered an injury while trying to stop a drunk driver has won an appeal and will receive worker's compensation benefits.

In 2008, the South Coast British Columbia Transit Authority officer was off duty when he saw an intoxicated driver in Chilliwack, B.C., and called 911. After he identified himself as a transit officer, the 911 operator said it would be some time before police would be able to respond. The transit officer then followed the driver, watching the car weave across the road.

Eventually, the car hit a parked vehicle and stopped. The officer went up to the car, reached in through the passenger side and tried to pull the keys out of the ignition, but the driver pushed him and tried to drive away. The officer’s boot was caught in the passenger side door and he was dragged. The car drove over his right arm and tore his clothes before he was able to get the car to stop.

When police arrived, they found the driver’s blood alcohol level was more than three times the legal limit and he had marijuana in the car.

The officer applied for workers’ compensation for his injury but was initially denied by WorksafeBC, the province’s worker’s compensation board (WCB), because he was not officially working when the injury occurred. However, an appeal tribunal overturned the initial decision and found he was entitled to benefits because police officers are sworn to protect the peace whether they are on- or off-duty.

The Canadian Office and Professional Employees’ Union (COPE) called it an important decision for police officers.

"This constable placed himself in harm's way to protect the public, even though he was off duty, and we are pleased that this courageous act has not only been recognized as compensable under the WCB, but also that the constable has received the recognition that he deserves," Andy Ross, president of COPE, local 378, told the Vancouver Sun.

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