Law enforcement officers, firefighters, military personnel, and other public safety personnel put their lives on the line in order to keep the public safe from harm. Unfortunately, sometimes individuals in these occupations pay the ultimate price for their service by losing their life. When this happens, it is often referred to as a "line of duty death." An individual who loses his or her life in a line of duty death is frequently honored by a special service and his or her dependents may be eligible for a number of benefits as a result of the death.
Each jurisdiction will treat a line of duty death differently; however, most treat it with respect and deference. In the United States, when a police officer, firefighter, or other public safety officer is killed in the line of duty, there is generally a service that encompasses public safety officers from across the country. It is not uncommon for the mayor or governor to speak at the funeral or for streets to be closed off to make room for the line of hundreds of vehicles that make up the funeral procession. A funeral for a line of duty death for a member of the United States military often includes honor guards, the firing of shots as a salute, and an American flag draped over the coffin in respect to the deceased.
Although benefits hardly make up for the loss of a person who was the victim of a line of duty death, there are frequently a number of state and federal benefits available to the dependents of the deceased. Within the United States, Social Security benefits are frequently available for the spouse and any minor children. The Public Safety Officers Benefit Act may also provide a large lump sum benefit to the family of a public safety officer who was killed in the line of duty. Most state workers' compensation programs also make a one time lump sum payment to the family of a public safety officer who died in the line of duty. The federal workers' compensation program will pay benefits to surviving family members of federal officers who are the victim of a line of duty death and may also pay benefits to state officers in certain circumstances.
Aside from one-time, or lump sum, benefits, many family members of someone who was killed in the line of duty are entitled to a state or federal government pension. Family members may also be entitled to continued medical and dental benefits. Children of individuals killed in the line of duty may qualify for a number of scholarships that may help to defray the high cost of higher education.