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Bill aimed at helping fallen officers' families

Posted March 25, 2009

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— A bill that the General Assembly is considering would give spouses of fallen police officers access to police pensions without penalty.

Currently, when an officer dies in the line of duty, his or her pension – 6 percent a year, plus 4 percent interest – goes to the surviving spouse. However, it must be rolled into another retirement fund, such as an IRA, or there are major penalties.

Bill would help families of slain officers Bill would help families of slain officers

House Bill 766 (Senate Bill 411) would give spouses the option to take the money in a lump sum without penalty, to receive a monthly check or to roll it into an IRA.

As the bill stands, it would benefit only officers with 15 or more years of service and would not include the match money that the state has put into the retirement fund. It would be retroactive to Jan. 1, 2007.

According to the legislative staff who worked on the bill, the cost to the state would less than 0.01 percent of the entire state payroll.

"This gives us a chance to do something nice to support those families with the tragedy of an officer who has given the ultimate sacrifice," said Sen. Peter Brunstetter, R-Forsyth, who is sponsoring the Senate version of the bill.

Joyce Plouff's husband, Winston-Salem police Sgt. Howard Plouff, was shot and killed in the line of duty in 2007, but she was unable to access his pension because he had only been on the force 17.5 years – 2.5 years short of his retirement.

Under the proposed bill, she could have received his retirement income without penalty or without having to wait.

"Your world is turned upside down," she said Wednesday. "You don't know where you're going or what you're doing – never mind how you're going to pay the utility bill."

Over the past 10 years, North Carolina has ranked fourth in the nation in officers feloniously killed in the line duty, with the exception of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Fifty-eight percent of officer deaths occur in the Southeast. On average, four officers are killed in the line of duty in North Carolina each year.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • ranquick Mar 26, 2009

    Law enforcement should be like the militaries, when killed on duty, the beneficiary gets monthly entitlements then. If the spouse gets remarried they stop getting it and it goes to any children then.

  • Always160 Mar 26, 2009

    NC does support college tuition for children of fallen law enforcement officers, firefighters, and rescue squad workers according NCGS 115B-2(a)(4)

  • MajorLeagueinfidel Mar 26, 2009

    This is a sad statement about our treatment of LEO's and their families if this law has been in place. A wife (or husband) and kids left without a parent due to their sacrifice on our behalf and we penalize them?.....who comes up with this stuff. It isn't that significant of an amount of money in total and should be a gesture of appreciation.

  • nufsaid Mar 26, 2009

    "I heard this just a few minutes ago. If it's such a small amount why not all officers with 5 yrs. or more and retro further back than 2007? But it is indeed a wonderful idea and should be passed without question.

    NOTHING should be passed without question.

  • lizard Mar 26, 2009

    Money is paid into the system by the employee after taxes and matched by the municipality. This bill would not allow them to have the matching funds. The law states the officer gets to keep that money too after 5 years if he quits. The bill should be modified to give the survivor that money too.

    Other states have free tuition at colleges in their systems for children of fallen officers. We don't. I would support that for NC also.

  • whatusay Mar 25, 2009

    You are Funny says..."whatusay: if you aren't paid by the state then this bill does not effect you...You are paid by your employer. You would have to take up your grievance w/them."

    You are Funny...the state pays no one...Tax payers pay all salaries and wages of all state employees. Without the taxpayers we would have no state employees.

  • cc4042 Mar 25, 2009

    mpnolin - I couldn't have said it better myself.

  • You are Funny Mar 25, 2009

    whatusay: if you aren't paid by the state then this bill does not effect you...You are paid by your employer. You would have to take up your grievance w/them.

  • mpnolin Mar 25, 2009

    For starters, most police officers aren't state employees, they're employed by the municipality or county they serve, not that it's relevant to the discussion anyway. As far as why their survivors deserve more consideration, it's because they died serving their community. It's a special circumstance that doesn't apply to everyone, the way I read it, it only applies if the officer dies in the line of duty. If they want to expand the bill to the survivors of of firemen and soldiers, by all means, but no, I don't think everyone should be able to access their dead spouse's pension immediately and without penalty.

  • whatusay Mar 25, 2009

    Why not all NC citizens killed, regardless of the reason? Why should state employees deserve any more consideration than a person who works and pays taxes?