Officers confront lawmakers as line of duty benefits bill not brought up in committee
FRANKFORT, Ky. - A bill which would raise benefits for family members of those who die in the line of duty showed no signs of moving through the Kentucky House Tuesday during a committee meeting.
A crowd of officers and spouses filled the Appropriations and Revenue committee room in Frankfort Tuesday waiting on House Bill 185 to be called. The proposal was drafted after Georgetown College graduate and Louisville police officer Nick Rodman was killed in a high-speed chase on the job.
To the supporters' dismay, the bill was not brought up Tuesday, which caused backlash and mounting tensions. One officer says lawmakers are pushing police to support other bills at stake, playing political games at the expense of grieving families.
"It started off as kind of innuendo, but then it ended up being fairly explicit. It was expressed to us that if Senate Bill 1 wasn't going to pass, then House Bill 185 wasn't going to pass," Nicolai Jilek with the Fraternal Order of Police said.
Rodman's widow, Ashley, was in attendance Tuesday and had prepared to address the committee. Rodman currently receives limited benefits because of technicalities in the current law. As it stands now, Kentucky has a mix of benefits that are dependent on when an officer was hired, and where they worked, resulting in a large range of resources for various families.
The goal for bill supporters is to raise benefits for all officers eligible for line-of-duty-death pension.
Officers met with lawmakers for a private discussion after the hearing, asserting their bill is a non-partisan effort.
"We're not interested in using this bill as a bargaining chip on any other legislation," Jilek says.