Ohio bill helps families of fallen first responders collect benefits over longer time
CINCINNATI (WKRC) - It was December of 1997 and Dan Pope was serving a warrant in Clifton Heights. He was shot and killed.
"That the first line-of-duty death would be in my home area, you know I don't live there anymore, but this bill benefits my friends, you know, it's there for them and their officers," said Linda Pope, a line of duty death survivor advocate.
Her loss inspired her to fight for better benefits for families.
"Our heart goes out to them and the community because it's a big hit when a community loses an officer," said Pope.
Ohio Senate Bill 296 makes sure the families of law enforcement officers and firefighters collect 100 percent of their loved ones' benefits for a longer period of time.
"What the bill does is it extends that 25 years out to 33 and it picks up all of those folks that were in the DROP program, the Deferred Retirement Option Program," said Pope.
It also allows for continued health insurance.
"So, instead of getting that letter at the end of the month saying, you know, your kids are no longer covered, this bill will pick them up and allow them coverage until they're 26," said Pope.
After a tough fight in Columbus, including one veto, the bill passed in December. Linda said it's especially rewarding that the bill will help ease the burden for families like Colerain Township Police Officer Dale Woods'.
"It makes you feel good that you fought tooth and nail; you fought people; you testified; you poured your life out to them hoping that you could get them to listen to you and make a difference, and we did it," said Pope.