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Council member seeks to endorse bill to increase death benefits on state level

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- There’s been a lot of talk for weeks among city leaders about how much money a family should get if an officer is killed in the line of duty.

There’s also a push to back a statewide bill that would increase state benefits for workers killed in the line of duty.

“It's very well needed, when you take in comparison to first responders across the country. We’re very low. Most of our neighboring states are anywhere from 100,000 to 250,000,” said Donna Kirk with the Fallen Heroes Foundation.

Kirk is the widow of a fallen Memphis firefighter.  She was at the City Council meeting Tuesday when Edmund Ford asked fellow members to endorse a bill that would increase death benefits on a state level.

“Right now in the state legislature you have Rep. Hardaway and Senator Kelsey that are co-sponsoring a bill where the $25,000 dollar death benefit would increase to $100,000. The resolution that I have essentially is saying that the council supports what both legislatures are attempting to do,” said Ford.

Some are hopeful the state will be able to compete with other places.

“Now that need is a lot greater. These wives, most of the time, we go from two incomes to one income. The stress that it puts on the family, the surviving spouse to try to raise small children, is very hard,” Kirk stated.

If it passes in the state legislature, City Council members told WREG, workers killed in the line of duty would get additional money from the state.

“When you look at everything that's happened these last few years, there was a news story about so many officer killings that have happened not just in the state but the city, and we've had several talks about benefits as a whole,” Ford stated.

Tuesday night, the Memphis City Council will vote on a separate resolution presented by Harold Collins.

That proposal would allow city workers to designate their beneficiaries.

Current policy guarantees benefits only to surviving spouses and minor children.

The change would make parents, siblings and other family members eligible for death benefits.

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