Every year, over 900,000 law enforcement officers risk their lives while protecting our communities; businesses, families, and neighbors ensuring the safety and rights of every American. Law enforcement is a noble and dangerous line of work and in carrying out their duties, not every officer returns home at the end of the day. Approximately one officer is killed in the line of duty every two days in the United States—over 125 annually over the last 10 years.
A surviving family may be eligible for substantial death benefits from the Federal Government through the Public Safety Officers’ Benefits Program, as well as from various state and local governments, including special public safety death benefits, workers compensation, retirement fund provisions, as well as other financial assistance and services such as educational scholarships for the surviving spouse and children. Many families and law enforcement departments are unaware that these resources are available. Even if they are aware, the process to obtain these benefits can be complex, involving legal terminology and requirements for documentation, a daunting application process, and statutory deadlines. Benefits also vary significantly from one jurisdiction to another. Added to this is the fact that annually, over 80% of the officers killed in the line of duty are from departments that have never lost an officer.
The Badge of Honor Memorial Foundation mission is to assist the survivors and departments of officers who have been killed in the line of duty to obtain all of the statutory benefits that may be available to them and to train law enforcement departments on casualty planning. The Foundation accomplishes this goal by providing workshops through Federal and state law enforcement associations. Motorola Solutions Foundation is our primary sponsor for this training initiative. The workshops introduce the Foundation's Agency Casualty Assistance Guide, which covers the entire spectrum of issues in detail that a department faces when an agency loses an officer. This 75-page document was penned by the Foundation and serves many small departments as a death protocol manual.
The unfortunate reality is that if survivor benefits are not applied for in a timely manner, they are not received. The Foundation carries out its primary goal of assuring awareness and access through the work of the Board of Trustees, staff, National State Benefits Advisory Board, and the Chief’s Advisory Board.
For the last 10 years, we have contacted every department—police, sheriffs and state police—usually within 48 hours, to advise them of the Federal and state line-of-duty death benefits available to the survivors and to automatically forward to the department a copy of our Agency Casualty Assistance Guide.
The Foundation’s Board of Trustees oversees all activities of the Foundation. Currently, the Board is made up of 26 senior, sworn officers from police departments, sheriff’s departments, and state police departments. All Trustees are either on their respective police, city or county pension boards and/or hold leadership roles within their police organizations. The Board of Trustees’ primary function is to advise thelaw enforcement agencies about the Foundation and its activities. Additionally, the Trustees are responsible for alerting the Foundation when there is an officer down.
The Foundation also calls on the services of its volunteer Benefits Advisory Board, which includes two groups of experts: Federal, who handle the Public Safety Officer Benefits (PSOB) under the Bureau of Justice Assistance Program; and State, who are knowledgeable about their respective state benefits. Currently, the Foundation has coverage in 32 states.
The State Benefits Advisory Board is comprised primarily of the directors of state retirement systems, which often administers the police pension systems for both state and local agencies. Our organization has substantial relationships with most of these directors. When a department has a question regarding state benefits available to the families, Foundation staff can put them in contact with one of our state directors, assuring they will obtain the correct answers at the first call.
The Foundation’s Chief’s Advisory Board and FBINAA Advisory Board provide the Foundation with consultative advice on policy, trends and needs related to survivor benefits and policies.
The Badge of Honor Memorial Foundation helps families, who as a result of a law enforcement officer’s death are enduring personal hardship. The number one concern of any police officer is the financial security of his or her family. The Badge of Honor Memorial Foundation is able to assist families of slain public safety officers to receive the financial security available to them. As the national advocates for these families, our goal is to make sure no loved one is left behind.
Foundation trustees are active members of various prominent law enforcement departments and associations, namely:
- Fraternal Order of Police
- International Association of Chiefs of Police
- FBI National Academy
- National Troopers Coalition
- Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association
- Peace Officers Research Association of California
- Police Management and Supervisors Association
- International Union of Police Officers