Fountain adds death benefits

Fountain adds death benefits

Fountain adds death benefits in wake of law enforcement deaths
Posted on 05/21/2018
24th Annual Pikes Peak Region Peace Officers' Memorial Day Service was held at New Life Church on Friday May 19, 2017. Photo by Dougal Brownlie, The Gazette.

Fountain amended its policies this week to allow families of city employees who die on the jobs to continue to receive health benefits for up to two years.

The Fountain City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to add the provision to its employee handbook.

The city's Police Department hasn't lost an officer in a line-of-duty death since 1921, but city officials decided to implement the change following the deaths of three Colorado sheriff's deputies, Police Chief Chris Heberer said.

"It really became very clear that we did not have mechanisms in place at the state or local level for minimum protections for the families while they're going through the worst event of their lives," Heberer said. "As a city, we wanted to be proactive, not reactive."

Douglas County sheriff's Deputy Zackari Parrish was fatally shot Dec. 31, Adams County sheriff's Deputy Heath Gumm was gunned down on Jan. 24, and El Paso County sheriff's Deputy Micah Flick was killed Feb. 5 in a gunbattle during an attempted auto-theft arrest.

After Flick's death, El Paso County changed its policies to allow the dependents of employees killed on the job to continue receiving health insurance for up to a year at no cost. The coverage for Flick's wife and 7-year-old twin children would have otherwise expired at the end of the month.

In March, Colorado lawmakers celebrated the passage of a bill that would extend health benefits for the families of fallen state employees.

Republican state Sen. Bob Gardner of Colorado Springs introduced a bill this month that would set up a fund to pay for extended health benefits for the families of fallen police officers or firefighters.

Agencies moving to extend benefits for families of fallen officers is one good thing to come out of Flick's death, his widow, Rachael Flick recently told The Gazette.

"When you lose a spouse, the last thing you want to be thinking about is, 'Oh, my insurance is gone,'" Rachael Flick said. "We're thankful we can use our heartache to bring transformation and change."

Colorado Politics and The Gazette's Kaitlin Durbin contributed this report.

Original Article By Rachel Riley, The Gazette, April 27th, 2018