SC House passes bill that targets first responders killed in the line of duty

A statehouse bill plans to give a set amount of money to families who have lost a loved one in the line of duty.
Published: May. 10, 2023 at 5:25 PM EDT|Updated: May. 10, 2023 at 10:30 PM EDT
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MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (WCSC) - A statehouse bill plans to give a set amount of money to families who have lost a loved one in the line of duty.

If a full or part-time police officer, firefighter or EMS worker is involved in the Preretirement Death Benefit Program and dies on the job in a crash, they can receive $75,000. According to the bill, the amount can jump to $150,000 if they die on the job by an unlawful act of another or while responding to a call.

This bill was unanimously passed by the House on Wednesday.

Senate Bill 108 says about two law enforcement deaths, three firefighter deaths and two emergency medical service provider deaths happen every year across the state.

“These things happen so minuscule to us that it falls to the wayside, and it doesn’t come to the forefront until we have another death,” Gary Zimmer, vice president of the Fraternal Order of Police for Police Lodge #3, said.

The Fraternal Order of the Police looks after officers when it comes to public policy to make sure they’re being protected. Zimmer says a family can get by much easier with this raised dollar amount as it would replace the salary of a loved one that was killed on duty.

“It’s not free money because this is money trying to take care of a family, once again, that was looking out for someone that wasn’t necessarily their family,” Zimmer said.

Senator Brian Adams for District 44 that covers Berkeley, Charleston and Dorchester counties, is one of the sponsors of this bill.

He sent this statement in response to it making the bill making it through the House:

This bill, which I hope the Governor signs soon, will help those families who lost a loved one while serving their community making the ultimate sacrifice. It is a way the state can show our support and love for those who protect us all.

Charleston Police Department’s public information officer, Elisabeth Wolfsen, gave a comment.

In this week of remembrance for law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty, it’s particularly important that we talk about this bill. Police leave their homes and families every day not knowing what they might encounter up to and including danger and violence. While nothing can replace a life lost, and we hope to never utilize it, should the day come, this bill would offer some sense of support to the families of those who lost their lives in service to their communities. It would also increase accountability to those who choose violence against law enforcement officers.

The bill still has to go through the governor’s desk before it is put into action.

To read S.108 in its entirety, click here.