New bill proposes extended benefits for families of fallen officers

Posted at 11:12 PM, Apr 20, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-21 01:12:35-04

More than two months after losing her husband, the community continues to help Rachael Flick rebuild her life.

"I can’t believe it," Flick exclaimed, looking at her brand new backyard.

"Just in 36 hours, it’s been such an amazing transformation," she told News5.

Friday’s helping hand came from American Landscape Contractors of Colorado, who put in a new lawn, playground, plants, and a special memorial tree.

And while there’s been no shortage of generosity from Southern Colorado, Flick quickly learned there wasn’t much in the way of government assistance at the state level– with her family’s health benefits set to expire shortly after her husband’s death.

State Senator Bob Gardner is trying to change that.

"I think it’s huge to have something like that in place because when you lose a spouse, especially in the line of duty, the last thing you want to be thinking about is, ‘oh, my insurance is gone.’  Or ‘how am I going to feed my kids now that I’ve lost my law enforcement officer?’" said Flick.

Last month, Governor Hickenlooper signed a bill extending health benefits for state employee families.

But that wouldn’t apply to fallen deputies who work for counties–like Micah Flick, Heath Gumm, or Zack Parrish.

Gardner has introduced a new measure–Senate Bill 247–which would extend health benefits for families of those who die in the line of duty, by creating a police officers and firefighters continuation of benefits board.

Both city and county employees would be eligible for the benefits.

Flick says she plans on being involved in this process–with the hope that no other grieving spouse has to.

"I’m grateful to be a part of the meetings," she said.

"I would love for other people in our position to just be able to grieve and be with their family and not have to feel that things are undone–you know, that they are already well cared for and the processes are in place for them."

The legislation was just introduced this week.

We will continue to track its progress through the legislature.