Assistant Speaker references local story of personal struggles of law enforcement in letter

A letter from Assistant Speaker of the House Andre E. Cushing III to the House Speaker and Legislators
18 April 2012

Mr. Speaker, ladies and gentleman of the House:

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We deal with many issues here in the Legislature, some of them are very complex and require great study and deliberation, others are more basic and easily understood but no less important. Today we have before us a bill which, while brief and simple in its wording, is no less important to many who it can or will impact.

I am referring to LD 1900, "An Act To Support Members of the Law Enforcement Community Who Have Suffered a Catastrophic Illness."

I brought this legislation forward upon learning of a situation from a March 13 news article.

It seemed especially unjust to learn that those within the law enforcement community were denied the opportunity to help one of their own during times of undue hardship. It seemed especially harsh that this seemed to occur during the most difficult times that this family and this department had faced during this struggle, the week of his wife's funeral.

I would like to begin this story by telling you briefly about those involved; a young woman from the County, Kim LaPlante, born in Grand Falls, New Brunswick and raised by Delano and Jocelyne LaPlante in Cyr Plantation , married a young man 12 years ago, Robbie Pelletier. He chose a career in law enforcement, she in finance and accounting. They eventually bought a home in Orrington and were moving on with their lives when a visit to her doctor brought terrible news, that she had cancer. Their family and Robbie's law enforcement colleagues rallied to their support. Unfortunately, she lost her battle in March of this year.

Mr. Speaker, there is a phrase that I have often reflected on during trying times that myself and many others

I know have faced.

"In every adversity is the seed of an equal or greater benefit."

This seems very suitable today. Had it not been for that news story, I might not have known of the difficulty in the law and we would not have this opportunity of correcting the language so that others will not have to suffer the same difficulties that this family was faced with. And when I say family, I refer to Deputy Robbie Pelletier and Kim's parents, Mr. and Mrs. LaPlante, but I also refer to the law enforcement community as a whole as they are a family. There are over 2,600 men and women in Maine who wear the uniform of a law enforcement officer on a full-time basis and another 1,400 plus who are in part-time roles. They protect our state and its communities day and night, 365 days a year. Sometimes they work on weekends and holidays and many times they miss family time and special events. They take the good and the bad, dealing with often contentious and dangerous situations. Many times they are the first to arrive in difficult or tragic situations and must learn to put aside their own feelings and emotions to deal with the current issues at hand. This is part of what bonds them together and makes them a family, and like any good family in times of need, they take care of their own. Today by passing this law we allow them the opportunity to better help their family.

For Deputy Pelletier, the LaPlante's and the Penobscot County Law Enforcement Community this law was a bit late and for that you have our apologies, but the challenges you face in this situation have made the way easier for others and we hope that you may take comfort from this small act.

I thank you for allowing me to rise to speak and I now urge you to adopt this bill so it can better serve those who so selflessly serve us.