In a time of panic and crisis, support from the community can help to overcome any threat we may face as individuals.
That was the case in Humble, Texas when Sgt. Raymond Scholwinski, a law enforcement veteran of the Harris County Sheriff’s Office for 26 years, was under ICU treatment after testing positive for COVID-19.
Officers unite in prayer
On Wednesday, April 15th, the law enforcement community gathered outside of the police department parking lot and delivered a powerful prayer in the hopes of aiding Sgt. Scholwinski in his time of need. Those who participated adhered to social distancing protocol which involved being at least 6ft. apart and wore protective face masks to mitigate the spread of the virus.
The endearing scene captured all of the pure emotions that were poured out from loved ones including Sgt. Scholwinski’s son, Bryan, who urged the participants to, “Keep my dad, our family and healthcare workers in your thoughts and prayers.”
Sgt. Scholwinski was not the only one afflicted by the virus in the county.
According to Sheriff Ed Gonzalez, at least 27 people in the Harris County Sheriff’s Office were stricken by COVID-19.
“They are coming in fast now. Three more positives in the past two hours. 27 total now” tweeted Sheriff Gonzalez.
Approximately one day before the tweet was sent, the county shifted policies to ensure that the sheriff’s office personnel would not be using their own sick time during the quarantine period.
This is a huge sigh of relief for all the deputies involved who would’ve needed to use this benefit in a time of serious need; saving emergency paychecks that would’ve been very important in the case of personal unforeseen situations. Sheriff Gonzalez also proposed to the county that any COVID-19 related fatality should be considered a line-of-duty related death.
Under Act 101-Emergency Responder and Law Enforcement Death Benefit- those whose deaths have been filed within 3 years from the date of death are subject to be eligible for financial compensation. The compensation includes a one-time payment of death benefits to the surviving spouse, minor children, or parents of firefighters, ambulance or rescue squad members, and law enforcement killed in the act of performing their job duties.
Additionally, Act 51-Killed-in-Service Benefit provides a monthly supplementary income benefit equal to the monthly salary of the paid law enforcement officer and is adjusted accordingly every year by the Consumer Price Index. Specifically, the benefit is handed down to the deceased’s surviving spouse, or to the deceased’s children under the age of 18 if there is no surviving spouse.
Officers unite in their faith
Sgt. Scholwinski is not alone during this time. His fellow officers planned a vigil for him and gathered in front of their patrol vehicles where they lifted up their hands in unison as they commenced a prayer led by the sheriff’s office Lt. Shannon Bowdoin.
“Father, we come to You now, and I come to you in the name of Jesus, and I ask you, Father, to touch this family. I especially ask you right now, Lord, to reach down into that hospital room where Ray is…and by Your sovereign strength, power and authority, will You touch every cell of his body? Father, bless each of us with Your presence. Let each of us know that You have never left us nor forsaken us, and on this Passover day that we would see death pass us over…”
No matter your beliefs, it’s always reassuring when we realize who’s in our corner to help us battle through our darkest hour. May we be reminded in the strength of community through this immense message of hope.
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