Common Ground: Increasing Benefits for Fallen Officer's Families

03/19/2018 05:34 PM

Police and fire fighters risk their lives daily to help keep the public safe—and sometimes—they make the ultimate sacrifice, leaving their family to mourn.

Just last week Pikeville Police officer Scotty Hamilton was shot death while on duty.

When police or fire fighters like Officer Hamilton are killed in the line of the duty—their families are supposed to receive benefits for the rest of their lives. But here in the commonwealth, the benefits that surviving families receive aren’t enough for families to survive on.

Rep. John Blanton, R-Salyersville, sponsored House Bill 185 to correct that injustice—and it passed out of committee unanimously last week.

The bill with would increase the monthly average pay benefit from 25 percent to 75 percent of their annual salary, while also covering health insurance benefits for family members of the fallen officer.

The problem came to light after Officer Nick Rodman’s widow spoke about being unable to receive health insurance benefits for her children, and the salary benefits she was receiving weren’t enough to live on.

Mark Filburn, the Kentucky Department of Criminal Justice Training Commissioner, testified in front of a House committee what survivors of fallen officers face.

“When people ask me, ‘is it a great day?’ all I can think about is that meeting with Ashley, and how her kids don’t have have that benefit. That’s all I’ve been thinking about since that day and I can tell you it was the worst thing I’ve ever had to go through was to look at that young lady crying in my eyes, and saying this is a slap in the face to my dead husband,” he said.

The measure has vast support among the Kentucky State Police and police unions throughout the commonwealth.

Despite the measure having an undetermined fiscal note attached to the already vastly underfunded pension system it passed the House unanimously and now heads to the Senate for consideration.

Watch the Segment:

Michon Lindstrom

Michon is a producer for Pure Politics. Michon comes to Kentucky from Springfield, Illinois where she served as the statehouse reporter for the NBC affiliate. During her time in the Land of Lincoln she covered the state’s two year budget impasse and the largest school funding overall in Illinois history. Pure Politics airs weeknights at 7 and 11:30 on Spectrum News. Follow Michon on Twitter at @MichonLindstrom or reach her by email at michon.lindstrom@charter.com

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