Insuring Selma’s heroes

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 26, 2005

A group of Dallas County business owners and average citizens are concerned about the lack of adequate insurance for public safety officers and are working to do something about it.

Dallas County Sheriff Harris Huffman said that police and fire personnel put their lives at risk and jeopardize the lives of their families for their work but often are not protected with adequate coverage.

Currently, if killed in the line of duty, Huffman said, the families of public safety officers could receive around $50,000 in life insurance.

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If officers are killed in an accident unrelated to work, their families would receive between $10,000-$14,000.

With research indicating the average funeral costs upwards of $7,000, an off-duty accident could mean families would have little left over for other expenses.

“If you look at the pay scale these officers have, considering what they have to do, they don’t get paid as much as they should,” Huffman said. “It’s hard for them to pay the high insurance premiums.”

Under the guidance of Montgomery resident Grant Griffith, with the New York Life insurance company, a group of Dallas County business owners established the Public Safety Insurance Fund.

The PSIF consists of donations from area businesses that would be used to purchase $10,000 life insurance policies and $40,000 accidental death policies for every fireman, policeman, and sheriff’s deputy on active duty.

The policies provide coverage for one year and carry up to $50,000 in benefits at no cost to the officers.

“We make this an annual thing,” Griffith said. “Each year the business can decide if they want to contribute the next year and keep the fund going.”

Griffith established a PSIF in Montgomery last year and so far it has

been successful.

Billy Atchison, chairperson of the Selma PSIF, said the fund is a way for the community to show how much law enforcement and firefighters are appreciated.

“They do so much for us, so we need to go the extra mile for them,” Atchison said.

Atchison said Dallas could be one of the first counties in the nation to provide free insurance public safety workers.

“This is going to catch on nationwide,” he said.

Griffith said some companies, including Henry Brick, Alabama Power, and Bush Hog, have already agreed to contribute to the fund.

To contribute to the fund or find out more about it, contact Atchison at 418-4001.