Policy: Line of Duty Death

PURPOSE

The purpose of this order is to establish guidelines for the Michigan State University Police Department (Department) to follow in an officer’s death in the line of duty and to direct the provision of support for the deceased’s family.

POLICY

It is the policy of the Department to provide liaison assistance to the immediate survivors of an officer who dies in the line-of-duty. This includes providing emotional support for the surviving family during this traumatic period of readjustment.

DEFINITIONS

Line-of-Duty Death (LODD)

The death of an active duty officer by felonious or accidental means during the course of performing law enforcement duties.

Active-Duty Death (ADD)

The death of an actively employed officer resulting from illness, accident, injury, or natural causes not related to any performance of duty or police action.

Survivors

Immediate family members of the deceased officer to include: spouse, significant other, fiancée, children, parents, and siblings.

PROCEDURES

General Requirements

Line-of-duty deaths shall follow these guidelines in cases of critically injured officers with a poor prognosis of survival.

The understanding in following these guidelines are that the family’s wishes take precedence over the desires of the Department.

For instances of non-duty related deaths of active Department police officers, similar procedures may be followed at the discretion of the Chief of Police (Chief) or designee.

The Duty Supervisor will immediately notify the Chief of the death or critical injury.

Release of information

The name of the deceased officer will not be released to the media or other parties until the immediate survivors in the area are notified.

The name of the deceased officer will not be broadcast over any police radio channel or similar media, as the press often scan those platforms.

Once all proper notifications have been made, the Chief will authorize the release information to the media and general public regarding the incident.

If the media obtains the officer’s name prematurely, a supervisor will request that the information be withheld until proper notifications are made.

The Department shall make an effort to inform off-duty officers of the death or critical injury after making survivor notifications.

If officers are not home, personnel making the calls may leave a message indicating, “Please contact the Department regarding an officer death.”

If death has occurred, a thirty (30) day mourning period will be implemented by the Department to include:

All officers will be instructed to wear Department-issued black mourning bands on their badge.

Personnel Assignments

The Chief will designate personnel to positions in the event of an on-duty death or critically injured officer with poor prognosis of survival.

Notification Team (Team)

The Chief will meet in person with the immediate family and inform them of the officer’s condition or death.

If possible, the Chief should be accompanied by an officer who is acquainted with the family and/or the Department’s Chaplain (see ADM28).

Notification of the immediate family should be made as quickly as possible.

If the officer has died, notification should be made in a manner as forthright and empathetic as possible.

Notification of survivors at their workplace should be made in private, with the survivor determining the information to be given to their employer.

If the opportunity to get the survivor(s) to the hospital before the officer’s death exists, immediate transportation will be provided by the Notification Team.

The Team will provide transport of the survivor to the hospital and the survivor should be discouraged from driving themselves.

If they wish for their vehicle to be used, a member of the Notification Team should accompany them.

The Notification Team should assist with family care arrangements, if necessary.

If survivors live outside the immediate area, the Notification Team will contact the law enforcement agency in that jurisdiction to request that personal notification be made on our behalf.

The survivors should be given a Department contact name and phone number.

Hospital Liaison Officer

Whenever possible, the Chief or designee shall join the officer’s family at the hospital in order to emphasize the Department’s support.

The next highest-ranking officer to arrive at the hospital will serve as the Hospital Liaison Officer.

He/she is responsible for coordinating the arrival of immediate survivors, police officials, media and others. The duties include:

Arranging with the hospital for an appropriate private area to secure the survivors and a separate media staging area.

Updating survivors on the status of the officer and circumstances of those events.

Assisting family members in accordance with their desires to gain access to the injured or deceased officer.

Remaining with the survivors the entire time at the hospital to arrange whatever assistance they may need.

Determining if a Department Liaison Officer has been appointed and introduce survivors to that officer.

Completing an Authorization to Invoice form gained from MSU Human Resources website to be given to the medical care facility to ensure the family does not receive the medical bills.

Providing information and support that will allow the survivors to make necessary decisions.

Arranging transportation for the family and other survivors upon their departure from the hospital.

Ensuring arrangements have been made for the body to be escorted at all times until this duty has been relinquished to the direction of the Department’s appointed Funeral Coordinator.

Ensuring that a debriefing is held in a timely manner for notification of personnel, officers at the scene, dispatchers and friends of the Department.

Notifying FBI Uniform Criminal Justice Information Service Division of the death for their statistics on line-of-duty deaths.

Ensuring that a LEIN message is sent out regarding the officer’s death.

Department Liaison Officer(s)

Will serve as a facilitator between the survivors and the Department.

This position is staffed 24 hours per day until two days after the funeral.

Will meet with the survivors to explain his/her responsibilities to them.

Will serve as a facilitator between the survivors and the Department during the wake and funeral.

Will ensure the needs and/or wishes of family come before those of the Department.

Will help arrange lodging for out-of-town family and friends.

Assists survivors in dealing with media inquiries and informs them of limitations on what they can discuss due to ongoing investigations, if necessary.

Serves as a long-term liaison and in a support capacity for survivors.

The officer shall be made available to the family for a period of time in which the following shall be accomplished:

Initial contact

Wake

Funeral

Daily contact for two weeks and at least biweekly contact for first month

Arrange a session for survivors with MSU HR Benefits Coordinator to explain procedures

Maintain monthly contact for at least six months and quarterly contact thereafter

Assist with any judicial requirements

Helps obtain counseling for survivors.

Refers survivors to Michigan Concerns of Police Survivors (MICOPS) and similar support networks.

Keeps survivors informed of criminal proceedings, accompany them to proceedings and introduce them to prosecutors and others involved, if necessary.

Coordinate the return of deceased officer’s personal property to the family and return of Departmental property from the family.

Has two 8” x 10” Department photographs produced.

One will be framed and presented to the family

One will be displayed inside the Department

Benefits Coordinator

The Department’s Personnel Officer shall serve as the Benefits Coordinator

File workers’ compensation claims and related paperwork

File all other benefit paperwork as necessary

Present information to survivors on all available MSU, state, and federal benefits for the family.

Public Safety Officers’ Benefits Program

One time lump sum payment to surviving spouse and dependents.

Public Safety Officers’ Educational Assistance Program

Educational assistance for spouse and children.

100 Club of Greater Lansing

Public Act 195 of 1996 provides for the waiver of tuition for a spouse and children of a fallen officer. Help contact the Survivor Tuition Program at the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards (MCOLES).

Workers’ compensation: Contact MSU Human Resources for dealing with any Workers’ Compensation issues.

Prepare documentation of benefits and any payment due to survivors, to include:

The nature and amount of benefits to be received by each beneficiary

Schedule of payments

The name of a contact person for each type of benefit

Receive inquiries regarding public donations and assist in establishing a mechanism for receipt of such contributions.

Collect reports necessary for federal benefits including:

Detailed statements

Investigation

Autopsy results

Toxicology analysis

Death certificate

Hospital records

If there are surviving children from a former marriage, the guardian of those children will be supplied documentation from the Benefits Coordinator.

Assist survivors in determining if they need to obtain alternate health insurance.

Funeral Coordinator(s)

The Funeral Coordinator shall be appointed by the Chief or designee.

Shall be a member of the Department’s Honor Guard.

The Funeral Coordinator shall assist survivors in organizing a law enforcement funeral, if requested by the family (see OPR26).