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Bellevue officer injured in VP Harris motorcade recalls road to reclaiming benefits

Mar 26, 2024, 5:50 PM

Images: At left, Bellevue Police Department Officer Kevin Bereta is seen in his uniform. At right, ...

At left, Bellevue Police Department Officer Kevin Bereta is seen in his uniform. At right, Bereta is seen in a wheelchair leaving a hospital after having an accident while serving on Vice President Kamala Harris' motorcade. (Photos provided by the Bellevue Police Department)

(Photos provided by the Bellevue Police Department)

Bellevue Police Officer Kevin Bereta’s life changed while he was on Vice President Kamala Harris’ service detail during her visit to the state of Washington last August.

Bereta cleared a pedestrian from the road and was catching up to the motorcade when he was ejected from his motorcycle, falling 50 to 60 feet off the Michigan Street on-ramp, suffering severe injuries.

Bereta underwent five surgeries and months of treatment after that. However, while he was recovering, the City of Bellevue denied Bereta health benefits as the union contract with the city stipulates healthcare coverage will only last six months after an officer is injured, according to past coverage from The Jason Rantz Show on KTTH.

Previous coverage from Jason Rantz: Bellevue officer losing health benefits after VP Harris motorcade injuries

Bellevue Officer Bereta’s benefits restored

The officer wasn’t completely left in the dark after the initial announcement because medical expenses related to his on-duty injury continued being covered through disability insurance and Washington State Labor & Industries policies.

But this week, circumstances changed as Bereta’s health benefits were restored.

Rantz spoke with Bereta about his recovery on The Jason Rantz Show on KTTH Tuesday.

Bereta said he heard his benefits could be restored about a week ago. Then Monday night, the Bellevue City Council made the announcement during their meeting.

‘Big win for everybody’: City extends insurance to 18 months

“What are your general thoughts?” Rantz asked. “I mean it feels like, in a lot of ways, this could have been a little bit more open so you wouldn’t have had to go to the media, we wouldn’t have had to cover this at all.”

“I mean we ended up covering and it came out with a positive outcome, we have a total of 18 months of coverage if needed, so I mean that’s huge and that’s for every law enforcement officer on Bellevue Police Department. And even for anybody that works for the City of Bellevue, so in the end this is a good step forward and it’s a big win for everybody,” Bereta replied.

Bereta went on to say he still thinks change at a bigger stage.

“Like I said in our last interview, I think it needs to change at the state level,” Bereta added. I think we need to move farther with this, so I think there’s still some more work to do and I’ll see how I’m gonna try to navigate that here in the next coming year when I get back to work.”

Bereta explained the Bellevue Police Officers’ Guild and the city negotiated and then presented Bereta with what they came up with.

Background: Bellevue police guild slams city response to officer’s on-duty injury

Rantz brought up that the last time Bereta was on his show, he had some harsh words for the City of Bellevue.

“You pointed out they didn’t treat you with a whole lot of compassion that they were pretty cold,” Rantz said. “Does your view of the city change at all as a result of all of this?”

“I don’t think so,” Bereta replied. “I think that going forward maybe if they make some changes quicker than what they did in this situation, it can change, but I’m glad they came to their senses and provided and did the right thing.”

Officer after losing health benefits: ‘I’ve learned we can’t expect things from the city’

How is the recovery going?

“I feel good about the situation, like I said it’s a step forward,” Bereta said. “The city provided what we asked for, which was medical benefits, and it was kind of a bummer I didn’t get some supplemental pay to equal out what I also wanted, but that’s OK. Like I said, this wasn’t really about me 100%, this is going forward for everybody, so this is a step forward to make things better for everybody.”

But, most importantly, how is the recovery going?

“Same spot as last time, just still working at it, doing everything every day that I can,” Bereta said. “There’s not a day I don’t do something to make myself better.”

Rantz asked if he’s seeing improvement.

“I am seeing improvement, yes sir,” Bereta answered.

“That’s awesome. Well, we wish you the best of luck as you continue to recover,” Rantz said. “I know this is going to be still a long road ahead but at least one of the issues that does not have to burden you, at least for now, will be this coverage over the next 18 months. Hopefully, though, you won’t have to use it for 18 months and that’s what we’re all hoping for.”

“That’s what I’m hoping for too,” Bereta replied.

Julia Dallas is a content editor at MyNorthwest. You can read her stories here. Follow Julia on X, formerly known as Twitter, here and email her here.

Listen to The Jason Rantz Show on weekday afternoons from 3-6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here. Follow Jason on X, formerly known as TwitterInstagram and Facebook.

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Bellevue officer injured in VP Harris motorcade recalls road to reclaiming benefits