Bill to increase benefits for families of police who die in the line of duty comes closer to becoming law

03/15/2018 01:52 PM

FRANKFORT – Legislation that would raise benefits for family members of state employees who die in the line of duty was unanimously passed by a House committee.

House Bill 185, sponsored by Rep. John Blanton, R-Salyersville, would cover the health insurance for families of fallen officers if they die in the line of duty.

The bill would also increase the monthly average pay benefit for families from 25 percent to 75 percent.

The bill follows the death of Georgetown College graduate and Metro Louisville police officer Nick Rodman, who was killed during a high-speed chase last March.

Rodman’s death left his widow, Ashley, and her two young children without benefits because a beneficiary designation form showing Ashley as the beneficiary was needed.

“What this bill does, will bring, folks within the retirement systems of the SPRS, KERS, that lose their life in the line of duty, up to what it is with the Lexington Police Department and other states that surround us, and that is from 25 percent up to 75 percent of their annual salary,” Blanton said. “It would also provide insurance for the spouse and any surviving dependents of that individual.”

Kentucky State Police Deputy Commissioner Alex Payne says the premise of the legislation is to take care of the survivors of those who lay their life on the line for the citizens of the commonwealth.

“We can, today, take care of those families that have been left behind,” Payne said. “I can think of nothing more important in a society and as of a commonwealth, than for us to do that.”

Kentucky Department of Criminal Justice Training Commissioner Mark Filburn reflects back on the time he met with Nick Rodman’s widow after his death to discuss what little benefits she was entitled to receive under current law.

“I thought it was going to be a very honorable but sad, nice thing to do, and I can tell you in my 34-year career of burying officers across the state, it was the most horrible thing that I’ve had to do, besides burying an officer” Filburn said. “She said what you are doing with the retirement system is a slap in the face to my husband and a disgrace to our state.”

Nicolai Jilek, president of FOP River City Lodge #614 in Louisville, said the legislation was the only positive thing to come out of the tragedy.

“We didn’t know about this problem, this problem has been around for a while but, just with all of the line of duty deaths, it just really hadn’t come to the surface,” Jilek said. “That is the small piece of silver lining that we can find in Nick’s sacrifice.”

HB 185 moves on to the full House.

Don Weber

Don Weber is a Video Journalist for Spectrum News and covers politics and education on Pure Politics, Kentucky’s only nightly program dedicated to state politics. Don is a lifelong Kentuckian and a graduate of Northern Kentucky University. He spent many years covering sports in the Northern Kentucky area before shifting primarily to politics. You can watch Don’s work weeknights at 7:00 and 11:30 on Pure Politics, available exclusively on Spectrum News, HD Channels 403 and 715. If you have a story idea you can reach Don at donald.weber@charter.com.

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