Monday morning started with a ray of hope for families of fallen law enforcement officers, as Gov. Rick Scott held a ceremonial bill signing for a new law that will give those families more financial assistance.
Scott appeared with Sheriff Jerry Demings and other officials from local law enforcement organizations, as well as Bridget Pine, the widow of fallen officer Jonathan “Scott” Pine, who was shot in February 2014 and died from his injuries.
Scott called the bill important because of the way it helped families financially who weren’t getting help with the current laws. Addressing Bridget, he called her husband “the greatest hero,” and said his life had ended too soon.
“I’ve shaken hands with people all over the state,” Scott said. “And they want three things – they want jobs, they want education and they want to live in a safe community. With recent events all over the country, it’s even more important to honor those who put the safety of others over their own.”
He then said that while some things about being governor are hard, he cherishes being able to do truly wonderful things, and signing SB 7012 was one of those.
Senate President Andy Gardiner recalled the bill’s last day in the Senate, in which they opened the floor for as many senators to co-sponsor the bill as they wanted. He said 40 of them immediately co-sponsored the bill and sent it to the house.
“Everyone knows we’re just politicians,” he said, as opposed to the first responders who risk their lives every day. “But when it’s time to make a change, we step up and do that.”
Sen. David Simmons, one of the co-sponsors, commended Scott for his dedication to helping law enforcement families.
“In this unique and perplexing environment, first responders are not respected as they should be,” he said. “We have a governor who cares about and respects law enforcement.”
Bridget’s story of perseverance was recounted throughout the ceremony – she braved the exhaustion and trials of trying to pass the bill through legislature, which many of the speakers including Scott called extremely difficult.
But before the crowd, Bridget was smiling and grateful for the bill’s passing.
“I have been working two years to change the law,” she said. “Politics can be brutal. I can remember falling on my knees and crying, praying to God, saying I can’t fight this battle again, it’s too hard. My faith got me through this. I am truly grateful that Scott’s legacy for helping others will live on.”