What Is a Line of Duty Death?

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  • Written By: Renee Booker
  • Edited By: E. E. Hubbard
  • Last Modified Date: 19 January 2020
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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.


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Post 3

I have a friend whose son died in The Middle East. He was in the military, and he had been over there only a few months when he was killed. His family did receive a small amount in financial benefits, but what meant the most to them was all of the effort the military put into the burial. Soldiers were there and there was a gun salute, and the playing of Taps.

When you lose someone like this there is nothing that can make up for the loss, but for my friend, it meant a lot to see her son buried in such a respectful way. The attention that went into carrying out the funeral made her feel like her son's service and his sacrifice were truly appreciated.

Post 2

@Laotionne - I agree that being a police officer has its dangers, but you might be surprised to know that there are many workers in other professions who are at greater risk of death than police men and women. Police officer is by no means the most dangerous job to hold. Actually, I recently read a list of the top 10 deadliest professions and police officer was not on the list.

Don't misunderstand me; I have a great deal of respect for police officers who take pride in their jobs and do them fairly and to the best of their abilities, but I think TV has overstated the number of times a police officer's life is put in jeopardy during the course of a career. Most officers never draw their guns in the line of duty. Death related to work happens for police officers, but this is not as common as most people seem to think.

Post 1

Being a police officer is such a dangerous way to make a living. Anyone who chooses this profession must really want to help other people because there are certainly safer ways to make a decent living. I was pleased to read that there are so many benefits offered to the family members of officers who are taken away as a result of a line of duty death.

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