In 2003, the Michigan Sheriffs’ Association (MSA) recognized the need to assist agencies and the officers’ families through the trauma of having to deal with the death of a police officer. This resulted in a team offering support in the areas of funeral planning, benefit coorination and stress management.
First know as SMART (Sheriffs Memorial Assistance Response Team), the team responds when officers are killed in the line of duty, as well as when active duty officers are killed or die suddenly while off-duty. There are different protocols for each type of funeral and the team stands ready to serve at any time.
In 2012 the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police (MACP) joined the team and the name was changed to SMMART (Sheriffs & Municipal Memorial Assistance Response Team). Just a few short months after our new team members received training, the SMMART team responded when a West Bloomfield Officer was shot and killed in the line of duty.
While the SMMART team stands ready to respond anytime they are needed, the members of this dedicated crew hope that each call they go on will be their last.
Rep. Schmidt’s Bill Guaranteeing Health Benefits for Surviving Spouses and Children of First Responders Killed in the Line of Duty Passes House 110-0
The Michigan Sheriffs’ Association is proud and pleased to announce the Bipartisan unanimous passage of Representative Wayne Schmidt’s
Line of Duty Death Benefits for Surviving Spouses’ Bill (H.B. 5608)
Executive Director of the Michigan Sheriffs’ Association Terrence Jungel stated, “It is comforting to know that if a police officer dies while protecting the public, the public will protect his or her family in his or her absence. As a police officer
myself, should I have given my life protecting the public, I would have assumed my family would be taken care of in my absence. That is not always the case.
It was terribly disturbing to find out there was a crack in the system that surviving spouses were falling through. Several testified in support of this bill.
I appreciate Representative Schmidt’s leadership on this bill and the other 109 Representatives who agreed it’s time to fix the problem.”
The Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police Executive Director Robert Stevenson said, “I am extremely grateful for the unanimous passage of HB5608 which will protect the health care benefits of the family of a Public Safety Officer who is killed in the line of duty. The passage of this bill provides a powerful message to my members that their family will not be abandoned in the event of a line of duty death”.
State Representative Wayne Schmidt who announced the passage of House Bill 5608 said, “Public safety officers risk their lives daily in northern Michigan and across the state and in the unfortunate and infrequent event of their passing in the line of duty, we owe it to their families to help them through a challenging loss. Providing peace of mind is the right thing to do, should the unthinkable happen.”
The bill provides health care for families of all first responders (police, fire and EMS), including children up to age 18 or 26, if a student. Similar to benefits offered by the Michigan State Police, the family would receive affordable, comparable health care coverage until they can find similar health care through other means.
“Until now, spouses and children of public safety officers have instantly lost health care coverage upon their loved ones’ passing,” Schmidt said. “I couldn’t believe these services weren’t already in place because the last thing mourning families need is to worry about finding health care”.
The program would be housed in the Public Safety Officers Benefit Act which currently offers $25,000 to next of kin of police, firefighters and EMS killed in the line of duty.
The bill will now move to the Senate for further consideration.