By Jennifer Gomori, MAFF Editor with excerpts from news media

A group of 13 extremists from two militia groups have been arrested after plotting to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and other state officials, endanger the lives of law enforcement officers, and overthrow the state government.

The Justice Department announced their capture in a press conference Oct. 8. Hundreds of law enforcement Capital Building Lansing Croppedofficers from various agencies worked across state lines to locate and arrest the suspects Oct. 7, who have been arrested on state and federal charges.

The six facing federal charges are: Adam Fox, Barry Croft, Ty Garbin, Kaleb Franks, Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta. All suspects are Michigan residents except Croft, a Delaware resident.

In her own press conference, Whitmer said the suspects “were preparing to kidnap and possibly kill me.”

The plans to kidnap Whitmer from her vacation home and attack the Michigan State Capitol, kidnapping state officials before the Nov. 3 election, both involved using explosives.

“I want to start by saying thank you to our law enforcement. Thank you to the fearless FBI agents and thank you to the brave Michigan State Troopers who participated in this operation acting under the leadership of Col. Joe Gapsper,” Whitmer said. “As a mom with two teenage daughters and three stepsons, my husband and I are eternally grateful to everyone who put themselves in harms way to keep our family safe.”

The Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) confirmed that funds from the $850 million in Byrne Justice Assistance Grants can be used for "hazard pay" as well as personal protective equipment (PPE), according to Jim Curran of Karoub Associates. The BJA also shared important information about disability and death benefits related to contracting COVID-19 for officers and their survivors.

Public Safety Officers who can prove they were exposed to COVID-19 while working and contracted the virus because of that exposure may be eligible for disability benefits, and if they die because of COVID-19, their survivors may be eligible for death benefits.

Under the Public Safety Officers' Benefits (PSOB) Act and its implementing regulations, conditions caused by infectious diseases, viruses, and bacteria may be found to be an injury sustained in the line of duty.

To establish eligibility for benefits for a public safety officer’s death or disability due to COVID-19, the PSOB Act and regulations require evidence that it is more likely than not the disease resulted from the officer’s exposure to the disease or the virus that causes the disease, SARS-CoV-2, while performing a line of duty activity or action.

For more details on qualifications, please click here to read the Bureau of Justice Assistance letter.

The Michigan Department of Health & Human Services (MDHHS) developed a chart detailing what to do next based on possible COVID-19 exposure.

Please click here for MDHHS "I think I have been exposed to COVID-19, what should I do?" informational chart.

For more detailed information, please visit the website.

The Veterans Benefits Administration issued this statement about office closures on March 18, 2020:

The Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) Regional Offices will be closed to the public starting March 19.

Regional offices will remain open, but will no longer accept walk-ins for claims assistance, scheduled appointments, counseling and other in-person services. This decision protects our older Veterans and those with underlying conditions as well as our employees.

Veterans can continue to get information about benefits or file a claim for benefits by visiting our website at Veterans with claims specific or other questions may request information via Inquiry Routing & Information System (IRIS) or telephone at 1-800-827-1000.

VBA benefits and services provided to Veterans, families, and survivors will continue to be delivered throughout the duration of COVID-19 impacts.Please continue to check for updates. You also may follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Thank you,
Veterans Benefits Administration

By Jennifer Gomori, MAFF Editor

Waterford Township Police Det. Chris Belling is known for putting the members of his local MAP unit first, so it’s fitting he is the first recipient of the Richard C. Heins Outstanding Leadership Award.

Photos by Jennifer Gomori, MAFF Editor                                          Waterford Township Police Det. Chris Belling was honored with the Richard C. Heins Outstanding Service Award at the MAP Holiday Open House in December 2019.

In a tribute to longtime MAP Executive Board President Rich Heins, the Outstanding Leadership Award recognizes MAP, MAPE and MAFF Local Union Stewards who have gone above and beyond the call of duty to serve fellow members. Heins passed away unexpectedly April 28, 2019, shortly after retiring from the Sterling Heights Police Department and becoming a MAP, MAPE and MAFF Labor Relations Specialist.

“He was well-known for putting the needs of members above his own. As President of MAP, he set policy through turbulent times in 2007,” said Mike Kunath, MAP Executive Board Vice President and a longtime Sterling Heights Police comrade. An MCOLES Commissioner since 2017, Kunath said, Heins “articulated actual needs of officers and was an advocate of training.”

Det. Belling was nominated by MAP staff for the award. The Waterford Township Police Officers Association President, former Association Vice President and Secretary has served on the Local Board for the past decade, running unopposed every election since the first time he ran against another candidate and won. Members know when the going gets tough, they can count on Triple B “By the Book Belling” as he is affectionally known for his tenacity.

“Chris takes grievances personally if he feels the Employer is being unjust or unfair,” said MAP Executive Board Treasurer Al Knapp, a Waterford Township Police Detective. “It seems to bother him as much or more than the actual grievant. He puts his heart and soul into being a union representative.”