February 10, 2016 was a tragic day for for Harford County and Maryland Police forces. Two veteran Harford County Sheriff’s officers (Senior Deputy Patrick Dailey served for 30 years, Deputy Mark Logsdon served for 16 years) were brutally gunned down while protecting the citizens of Maryland. The suspect was later killed by back up forces arriving at the scene. Harford County has one of the lowest death rates of officers shot while in the line of duty. That factor coupled with the particularly horrifying events of February 10, 2016 is sure to make the people of our state start thinking.
One concern that comes to mind is the families of these officers and what will unfold in their future. It is not unreasonable to think that the families relied on the income of these great officers and will be burdened with financial concerns while they should be morning. At the least the workers compensation insurer for Harford County Sheriffs’ Office will have to provide death benefits to the extent that these family members were dependent on the late heroes.
In the event an officer is killed in the line of duty, the family is entitled to death benefits under Maryland Workers’ Compensation laws. The compensation is determined by the income of the fallen, and the extent of which the dependents relied on that income. The officers income is compared to the household income to determine the amount the workers’ compensation insurer is responsible to pay.
As a side note: There are some inequities in Maryland Workers’ Compensation Laws that have, to this point, not been fixed by our legislature. The statutory code draws a distinction between Police Officers and certain Sheriff’s departments. When an injured Police Officer is compensated for a work injury he is paid at a higher rate (know as the public safety rate or second tier) as compared to a Sheriff’s Officer who is paid at the lower rate (first tier rate). While this inequity does not particularly come into play for these fallen officers, perhaps the Maryland Legislature will take this as an opportunity to revisit and review Article 9 of the Labor and Employment Article.
What is interesting is the justification highlighted by the legislature and the Judiciary as to why Sheriff’s are not compensated at a higher rate. Justification: Sheriff’s Officers are not exposed to the dangers Police Officers are exposed to on a regular basis.