Important Update Regarding Townships with a Volunteer Peace Officer

March 30, 2016

If your township has a volunteer peace officer, then your township needs to form a "Volunteer Peace Officers' Dependents Fund" Board.

 

The Ohio legislature recently established through the passage at S8 11, the Volunteer Peace Officers' Dependents Fund (Fund). The Fund was established to assist dependents of volunteer peace officers killed in the line of duty and to assist volunteer peace officers that become totally and permanently disabled as a result of a line of duty injury and is contained in Ohio Revised Code Chapter 143. A similar fund for volunteer fire fighters was established several decades ago.

 

Each political subdivision, including townships, with a police department that employs volunteer peace officers will be made a member of the Fund and each Fund member must establish a "volunteer peace officers' dependents fund board" to administer claims for the benefits from the Fund. ORC 143.Ql (C) defines 'volunteer peace officer' as "any person who is employed as a police officer, sheriff's deputy, constable or deputy marshal in a part-time, reserve or volunteer capacity ... and is not a member of the public employees retirement system, Ohio police and fire pension fund, state highway patrol retirement system or the Cincinnati retirement system."

 

Townships should consult with their legal counsel to discuss forming their township's board. A board must have the following members: two members elected by the board of trustees, two members elected by the volunteer peace officers of the police department and one member elected by the other four members (cannot be a public employee, member of the board of trustees or peace officer for that department; must be a citizen registered to vote in that area). One of the five elected board members must be identified as a chairperson and another as the secretary by the members of the board. Board members must be named by April 22 and initial terms last one year.

 

Each board's secretary must submit all of the following information to the Ohio Department of Commerce: name and address of board members, names of the board's chairperson and secretary and a certificate indicating the current assessed property valuation of the Fund member.

 

Each Fund member (e.g., the township as an entity) pays an initial premium of $300 -500, which is based on the member's assessed property valuation (ORC 143.06). Additional premiums may be required. The benefit amounts are (1) $1,000 award to a surviving spouse, plus $300/month; (2) $125/month to the parent or guardian of dependent children; (3) $300/month for disabled volunteer peace officers.

 

The Ohio Department of Commerce has been tasked with administering this fund. The Department will have a website available in the near future for the secretary to enter this information. The OTA will provide you with the link to that website once it has been established. In the meantime if you have questions you are encouraged to contact Kimberly Hodnett, Ohio Department of Commerce, at (800) 515-0023.