Under Legislative HB228, Line-of-duty Death Benefits for Peace Officers and Firefighters, which passed in July 2015, required a surviving spouse and children of a law enforcement officer or firefighter who died in the line-of-duty, to continue to receive insurance.
“This law requires municipalities or anyone that hires fire fighters, public safety employees to provide health benefits if they are killed in the line-of-duty,” Cedar City Fire Chief Mike Phillips. “That line-of-duty is actively engaged in either law enforcement activities or firefighting activities.”
Phillips said that these line-of-duty deaths can also be from an exposure to a hazmat incident from either chemicals or meth labs, which side effects may become present even 15 years following the incident.
“So you look at a 21-year-old officer with a family (and he) dies in the line-of-duty,” he said. “That is just shy of $600-costs to the city to provide health care for them until the spouse reaches 65 (years old) and the kids to age 26.”
Phillips said the state has a trust fund, which pays to defer costs. He continued to say that both the police and fire departments would be responsible for the first 24 months and the trust fund would cover the rest.
“With the current staffing of 36 officers and 12 firefighters, the cost for the trust fund is just shy of $5,000,” Phillips said. “The cost for the fire department is $1,140.”
He said notice of the departments’ participation in the law must be given by signature to the state by March 31 with the first payment due on June 30. Phillips said for this reason he brought the item to the council’s attention in middle of its budget considerations. The item of business was placed on the consent agenda for the council’s next meeting.
One final item placed on the consent agenda for the council’s next meeting was the appointment of Cedar Transportation Service Committee Board Member Allison Bulloch to replace Danny Cowan and Historic Downtown Economic Development Committee member Dane Leavitt to replace Dave Nakken. Cedar City Mayor Maile Wilson announced the individuals for council review.
Also at the meeting, Police Chief Darin Adams announced the apprehension of Colton Rourke Owens of Parowan for attempted burglary at the Cedar City Regional Airport .
“We got a call Thursday that someone had made entry into the airport,” Adams said. “We thought there was some potential terrorism there with the footage that we saw.”
He said after a photo from the footage was posted on social media and with the public’s help the man was identified and apprehended.
“Detectives did a great job,” Adams said. “There was no terrorism, but he was just someone looking for money.”
With information from an interview with Owens, Adams said, Owens has a history of going into bathrooms and waiting for the opposite sex.
“This is a bit comical, but he went in that night with the intent, to wait in the women’s bathroom,” he said. “He stayed for a bit too late and he came out and the place was closed up.”
Owens tried the doors and was able to make his way out of the bathroom and out of the airport, but not before he propped open a door and returned to steal some GPS devices, a gas card and other items, Adams said.
While Owens and the items were apprehended, Adams said this case reminded him to bring forward the need for a better security fence at the airport because Owens was able to go around the current airport fence without causing damage.