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Sheriffs Applaud Passage of Legislation to Reform Death Benefits for Families of Fallen Officers

March 09, 2016

Tallahassee, Fla. (March 9, 2016) – Recognizing the need to reform the process governing how death benefits are left to the family members of officers killed in the line of duty, the Florida Legislature today adopted SB 7012 regarding Death Benefits Under the Florida Retirement System (FRS). The legislation was a top priority of the Florida Sheriffs Association this session and was also supported by the Florida Police Benevolent Association and Deputy Pine’s wife, Bridget Pine. SB 7012 was prompted after the tragic death of Orange County Deputy Scott Pine in 2014. Following Deputy Pine’s death, it was discovered that his family would receive only a one-time payout due to his election of the FRS Investment Plan instead of the ongoing survivor benefits available to members of the FRS Pension Plan.

“This session, the Florida Legislature has made taking care of law enforcement officers who protect our citizens a priority,” said FSA President and Alachua County Sheriff Sadie Darnell. “We appreciate their support and look forward to Governor Scott signing this necessary bill into law.”

SB 7012 primarily makes two changes to the Florida Retirement System (FRS). First, the bill increases the monthly survivor benefits available to the spouses and children of FRS pension plan members in the Special Risk Class when killed in the line of duty from 50 percent of the member’s monthly salary at the time of death to 100 percent of the member’s monthly salary at the time of death. Second, the bill permits the surviving spouse or children of a Special Risk Class member killed in the line of duty the option to accept the funds from their FRS Investment Plan or elect to transfer into the FRS Pension Plan. Providing a surviving family the flexibility to opt into the Pension Plan will provide the spouse or children of the fallen officer the opportunity to be financially protected.

Sheriff Darnell was joined by sheriffs from around the state in thanking lawmakers for passing SB 7012.

“There is no greater sacrifice for the safety and security of others than when an officer gives up his or her life in the line of duty,” said FSA’s Legislative Chair and Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri. “Thank you to Speaker Crisafulli, Senate President Gardiner, and Senator Ring for increasing the death benefit from 50 percent to 100 percent for those first responders who put their lives on the line.”

“This legislation honors the life of Deputy Pine and all of the fallen officers who have opted for the FRS Investment Plan,” said Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings. “Thanks to the actions of Representative Plasencia, as well as members of the Florida Legislature, the families of those killed in the line of duty can have peace of mind in knowing they will be taken care of if tragedy ever strikes.”

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The Florida Sheriffs Association is a not-for-profit 501(c)3 corporation made up of the Sheriffs of Florida, approximately 3,500 business leaders and 70,000 citizens throughout the state. Founded in 1893, FSA has quietly served the citizens of Florida by supporting the needs of the state's law enforcement community. Through the Florida Sheriffs Association, Sheriffs are given a forum to address lawmakers to push for positive changes in Florida’s public safety arena. FSA also provides Sheriffs' Offices much-needed programs such as affordable training, special task forces and legislative and legal services. Dedicated to the prevention of juvenile delinquency and the development of lawful, productive citizens, FSA has established and funded the Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches with facilities throughout the state to help restore hope, fulfill dreams, and prepare boys and girls for the future. It has grown to be one of the largest and most successful state law enforcement associations in the nation. For more information on the Florida Sheriffs Association, visit [url=http://www.dev.flsheriffs.org]http://www.dev.flsheriffs.org[/url].