CINCINNATI (AP) — A legal glitch is preventing the families of two fallen first responders from receiving full benefits normally provided to spouses of officers and firefighters who die in the line of duty, according to the director of Cincinnati’s police museum.
“Now, the family is not getting anywhere near what they would have,” Lt. Steve Kramer, director of the Greater Cincinnati Police Museum, told WXIX-TV of Cincinnati (http://cin.ci/2dxwXjY). “We’re not supposed to lose money when we die. We are supposed to have a benefit when we give a full measure and die in the line of duty in the police, fire service and military.”
When a firefighter or police officer dies in the line of duty, their spouses continue to receive their full paycheck until they would have retired. But fallen police Officer Sonny Kim and Firefighter Daryl Gordon entered a deferred retirement option plan.
That plan means the families of the two Cincinnati first responders only receive survivor benefits, which essentially cut their benefits by at least half. Kim’s potential for earnings were close to $900,000, Kramer said. Instead, his widow could get $300,000 to $400,000, he said.
Kramer is appealing to state officials and union leaders for support to help eradicate the glitch.
The leader of Cincinnati’s police union, Sgt. Dan Hils, said he is all for fixing the problem.
Kim was fatally shot in June 2015 after he responded to reports of a gunman acting belligerently. Gordon died in March 2015, after falling down an elevator shaft inside a burning apartment building.
Cincinnati Police Specialist Buddy Blankenship, speaking on behalf of Kim’s wife, says she appreciates the tremendous outpouring of support and donations from Cincinnatians for her family. But Blankenship says Jessica Kim also sees the need for the loophole to be closed for the sake of other survivors of fallen police officers and firefighters.