Letter: Families of first responders deserve some dignity - East Valley Tribune: Letters To The Editor

Letter: Families of first responders deserve some dignity

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Posted: Friday, June 7, 2013 7:32 pm | Updated: 11:21 pm, Tue Jun 11, 2013.

Pension funds

Families of first responders deserve some dignity

Having served 18 years as a sworn officer with a large police service in Canada before emigrating to the U.S., and serving another 22 years as a civilian with a Valley police department, I have often expressed my disappointment and questioned the pension programs available to first responders in Arizona.

There’s no need to say, ‘Well that’s there, this is here.’ Believe me, there’s very little difference. It’s a matter of an imaginary line which separates the two entities, U.S. and Canada. There are several factors which caused me to question Arizona’s first responders coverage.

Bill Richardson, with whom I was professionally associated in the past, wrote a much-needed column May 31st for the East Valley Tribune. That column prompted this writer to document support for the column and public safety’s ‘First Responders.’

It’s tragic first responders may die performing their duty protecting the general public and citizens of their community. Some would argue they, too, had a loved one killed “on the job,” but the difference is first responders generally lose their lives as the result of some person or persons culpability, or a dangerous incident which, due to the requirements of the position, a first responder has no option of refusing to take action.

In death there should be an air of dignity which prevails but that is overshadowed by appeals of charity for the fallen and their family. The sudden callouts for a “car wash” and the like, to me, is an insult to all concerned.

It’s up to jurisdiction’s government to provide immediate financial assistance along with the union/association of the first responder, in most cases, would have belonged to. Large enough departments have what is known as the ‘Widows & Orphans Fund’ which is funded through payroll deduction, one of the requirements of employment. The ‘fund’ provides support to the widow and for the deceased’s children through their school years.

From the deceased’s pension fund, whether it be state, county or local, the widow receives the deceased’s pension for life or until such time as she remarries, although nothing can take the place of the deceased mate and father. At such time, it may then be terminated or she/he will receive a lesser amount.

It’s time to get the politics and politicians’ fingers out of police/fire pensions, allowing for a fair, just and dignified resolve to the unwarranted passing of those who protect us, the grateful public.

Barry Jones

Queen Creek

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