COLUMBUS, OH (FOX19) - The widow of a Cincinnati police officer gunned down in the line of duty more than two decades ago was in Columbus this week to promote a proposed law change to expand death benefits for families of fallen officers and firefighters.
House Bill 621, introduced April 26 by State Rep. Jim Hughes (R-Upper Arlington) increases payments relatives receive from the state and allows spouses and children to participate in health benefits offered to state employees "as if the survivors were employees of this state."
The proposed law is co-sponsored by six other state representatives, including two from the Tri-State: Bill Seitz of Green Township and Wes Retherford of Hamilton.
Linda Pope, widow of Cincinnati Police Officer Dan Pope, stood alongside other slain officers' widows at a press conference Thursday with state police union leaders.
Pope has crusaded for expanded death benefits for officers' survivors for years. Her husband Cincinnati Police Officer Dan Pope, 35, was shot and killed alongside colleague Specialist Ron Jeter, 34, just before midnight Dec. 5, 1997 as they tried to apprehend a domestic violence suspect. Their dates of death are Dec. 6, 1997.
The news conference was held the same day of an annual memorial ceremony at the state's training academy to honor officers killed in the line of duty.
"If you ask any of these cops they will tell you the only thing they ask in return is to ensure their family will be provided basic benefits to help pick up the pieces of their shattered lives," said Grace Leon, widow of Wayne Leon, a Cleveland police patrolman shot to death while on duty June 25, 2000.
"Our husbands honored their vow to you, today we ask you to honor their dying wish."