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Law Expedites Help for Families of Slain Officers

March 10, 2012

By Daniel Lombardo
Capital News Service

RICHMOND – Gov. Bob McDonnell has signed legislation to expedite funeral-related payments to families of law enforcement officers and other first responders killed in the line of duty.

“This common-sense measure will provide financial security and relief to those families faced with the loss of one of Virginia’s public safety heroes who has made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty while serving their fellow citizens,” McDonnell said after signing House Bill 395 into law.

The legislation, sponsored by Delegate Margaret Ransone, R-Kinsale, provides families of the deceased up to $10,000 for burial and funeral services and up to $1,000 to cover transportation costs.

The bill will accelerate payments that families of deceased first-responders have been promised under the state’s Line of Duty Act. Four first-responders in Virginia died in the line of duty in 2010 and six last year.

“Unfortunately, as the many line-of-duty deaths during 2011 remind us, sometimes these families are called upon to suffer the ultimate sacrifice of Virginia’s everyday heroes,” McDonnell said. “When the tragic loss of one of our first responders or law-enforcement officers takes place, it is incumbent upon us to provide relief for the mourning families at their time of need.”

The governor thanked not only Ransone but also Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, who pushed for the legislation.

“A line-of-duty death is already a difficult time for a family. The last thing they need to worry about is how they are going to find the money to pay for immediate expenses, such as funeral costs, while they wait for death benefits to be paid out,” Cuccinelli said.

“I witnessed first-hand the need for this bill as I went to the funerals of fallen police officers last year, and one family told me they did not have the money bury their loved one.”

HB 395 was approved unanimously by the House and Senate.

Both chambers also unanimously passed a companion measure, Senate Bill 441, sponsored by Sen. Mark Obenshain, R-Harrisonburg.

Obenshain said he introduced his bill because families have had problems receiving timely assistance under the Line of Duty Act.

“There was a law enforcement officer who was killed in the line of duty, and the Line of Duty Act benefits were so slow being processed that the family had to endure significant hardship,” Obenshain said.

That slow process forced families to cover expenses out of their own pockets, he said.
“There is usually little question whether one qualifies for benefits under the Line of Duty Act,” Obenshain said. He said the legislation simply speeds up payments of those benefits.

 

This CNS article was published by U.S. Politics Today and PotomacLocal.com.