Indiana FOP, lawmakers push to increase death benefits for families of slain public safety officers

Posted at 6:53 PM, Mar 26, 2018

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indiana Fraternal Order of Police is working with lawmakers to increase the death benefit families receive after a public safety officer is killed in the line of duty. 

Families who have lost loved ones say the benefits seem like a lot, but the only cover the everyday expenses for so long - and there is no amount of money that can replace the person they've lost. 

Cynthia Wizenread's husband, Andrew, was an Indiana State Trooper and was helping a woman put gas in her car when he was hit and killed by a semi at the side of the highway. 

"I was 24 years old," said Cynthia, "We had just had our first baby. She was one month old."

PHOTOS | Recent Officers Killed In the Line of Duty

Aside from the grief of losing her best friend, Cynthia found herself alone, unemployed, caring for their newborn on her own and the bills were piling up. 

She said the Indiana death benefit granted to her by the state just wasn't enough to cover them. 

"It doesn't pay the house payment. It doesn't pay the gas payment, even car payments," said Cynthia. "I still had bills coming in and Andrew wasn't coming home."

Families of fallen public safety officers  - including police, fire and EMS - can receive $150,000 from the Indiana Death Benefit. 

They also receive a specific amount of the officer's pension that's dependent on the department they worked for and they can be eligible for the "public safety officer benefit" which allows the family of a fallen officer to receive roughly $350,000 that is divided between the officer's spouse and his or her children. 

"Well, if my husband were still alive and we got to work each day and we got to do the finances the way we wanted to do it - we would have had an education benefit put back for our children," said Molly Winters-Carie, former president of Concerns of Police Survivors. "In this instance, Greg, in less than two seconds was shot five times in the back of the head. Nobody stopped to ask him what are your plans - so now our plans for the future are out of the water."

The group hopes they can work with lawmakers to ease that burden for families after their loved ones - who have given the ultimate sacrifice - are gone. 

READ | Remembering Deputy Jacob Pickett

"Just a couple weeks ago, Jake Pickett was killed in the line of duty and now his wife, she has uncertainty about what's going to happen," said Winters-Carie. "There are two little boys without their daddy and their mommy has to worry about her bills and how they're going to get paid and it seems like a large amount of money but it's just not."

The group is also working to include other public safety officers outside of police, fire and EMS. 

MORE TOP STORIES | Woman overdoses on heroin in bathroom at Riley Hospital for Children | Co-defendant in federal Grundy case to plead guilty to trafficking in heroin, meth | New Palestine mom says popular hair product left family's hair falling out in clumps | Man fills up gas tank, only to find water | 22-year-old arrested in connection with St. Patrick's Day murder

Top Trending Videos