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Obama Proposes Cutting Slain Officers Program by Nearly Half, Based on 'Decrease' in Expected Claims

By DEVLIN BARRETT
Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Obama administration wants to cut almost in half a benefits program for the families of slain police and safety officers.


President Barack Obama speaks about the fiscal 2010 federal budget, Thursday, May 7, 2009, in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building across from the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
The president's proposed budget calls for cutting the Public Safety Officers' Death Benefits Program from $110 million to $60 million.
The Justice Department insisted no one would lose benefits.

"Any family member who is eligible for benefits under this program will receive them," said Justice Department spokeswoman Melissa Schwartz.

Budget documents say the reduction is being made because "claims are anticipated to decrease," apparently because the number of officers killed in the line of duty has been decreasing.

The proposal is being made just days before Attorney General Eric Holder is expected to attend ceremonies in Washington honoring slain officers.

"It makes us kind of nervous. While we aren't panicking, it certainly has increased our concern, coming a week before National Police Week," said Suzie Sawyer, executive director of Concerns of Police Survivors, a group taking part in next week's events.

Sawyer said as long as the number of police and safety officers killed doesn't increase too much, the amount of money offered in the budget could be enough. And she noted that in the past, the government has found more money for the program when it needed more, such as following the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks.

The program pays benefits of more than $300,000 to the survivors of a safety officer killed in the line of duty.

There were 133 police officers killed in the line of duty last year, the lowest amount since 1960, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.

The group said killings of police officers are up 21 percent so far in 2009, compared to the same period the year before.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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From the National C.O.P.S. Office

New is spreading that President Obama’s Fiscal Year 2010 budget includes $60 million for the Public Safety Officers Benefits (PSOB) Program. This appears to be a reduction from the $100 million amount that was in the Fiscal Year 2009 budget. After speaking with Laurie Robinson and the Bureau of Justice Assistance at the Department of Justice, we have been assured that this reduction will have no impact on PSOB or the benefit paid to surviving families of fallen public safety officers. The law that provides for PSOB is written in a way that allows Justice to use “such sums as may be necessary” to administer the PSOB program.

Just as happened after September 11, 2001, the Department of Justice was able to pay those claims by simply asking for more money from the Department of Treasury.

The dollar amount of the reduction for PSOB in the Fiscal Year 2010 budget, therefore, is meaningless to PSOB.

Suzie Sawyer
Executive Director
Concerns of Police Survivors
Four Oakland Officers killed March 21-24 2009; 3 Pittsburgh Police Officers killed April 4, 2009; 3 Opaloosa County FL Sheriff's Deputies killed April 25th. Somebody really did their homework when they came to the conclusion that "claims are anticipated to decrease," apparently because the number of officers killed in the line of duty has been decreasing". Maybe we should look at not funding artists throwing feces on crucifixes and studying the sex habits of tse-tse flies instead of reducing the money for our fallen officers.

Jan - April Line of Duty Deaths:

2005 - 49
2006 - 53
2007 - 62
2008 - 33
2009 - 43

Took me all of 4 minutes to get that info (www.odmp.org). You'd think that Washington would be able to do the same.
Having a Brother officer on that Wall of Honor it is a disgusting insult to him and all the Brother's and Sister officers who have paid the ultimate price protecting his right to make such a gross suggestion. He, "our President" insults the families and those of us that still serve WILLINGLY!! at a time when the nation is honoring OUR fallen. We on the front lines, the first in (Public Safety, Military) we are expected to be the first to do with less or worse to do without! A nearly 50% cut in a benefit to care for the family members left behind of those that paid the Ultimate is a disgrace. I wonder what the outrage would be if there were a 50% cut in funding for Presidential Secret Service detail? I bet that the money would be found to stop that cut!
OK, Two additional points to consider:

1 - I can reduce my personal fuel budget to $50.00 a month if I want to, but if the actual cost of gasoline (since it's going up again!) is $75.00 a month, then it defeats the purpose of budgeting in the first place. You can't say I'm reducing costs by cutting the amount I'm going to spend here, unless you can actuall cut the amount you're going to spend!! Anything else is just check kiting, or a government sponsored ponzi scheme, not true fiscal responsibility.

2 - There is a TON of abuse in our system as it is. I can come up with a couple million dollars in just a couple projects. Follow these links and tell me if you think "Fiscal Responsibility" is being considered here.

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2009/05/14/government-funds-million...

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2009/05/08/government-funds-study-g...

Maybe the solution that is being sought here is a worthy cause, and maybe it is something that should be funded, but I would think that government tax dollars would be the last place to go for these projects when the country is having a "financial crises" as our current administration calls it. If it's bad enough to cut funding for those who give their life in order to protect the citizenry, then it's bad enough to cut funding for projects like these.
There is a great need for this program. Period. R3gardless of the number of US killed or "anticipated to be killed".
I hope that when the need is there -that the support is also there.
What are Obama and the minds that be, trying to tell us as law enforcement (and emergency services)?
Cutting this program in half at this time or any time and placing the funds elsewhere, for what ever reason, just places law enforcement families in higher alert should their loved one(s) get killed.
I would like to think the love I have for my job, and all the hard work we all endure,
is appreciated greatly by our "Commander in Chief" and his staff as we do them and their title.
God Speed THIN Blue Line!

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