Proposed bill would provide more financial support for families of Utah police, firefighters killed in line of duty

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Families of Utah police officers and firefighters killed in the line of duty are urging lawmakers to support a bill that would bring them some financial support, and the bill has passed through a committee and will go to the full House for debate.

Rep. Paul Ray, R-District 13, is sponsoring a bill that would increase the lump sum payout to families at the time of death. The bill would also put the family on the state employee’s health insurance program, providing coverage for a spouse until the age of 65 and for children until the age of 26.

Nanette Wride, the widow of Utah County Sheriff’s Sgt. Cory Wride, spoke in support of the bill. She said her family lost coverage days after Wride was shot and killed.

"We want to make sure that we make the things that have been hard and tragic in our lives turn into something really good,” she said. “Shante and I have decided to really push on this and stand behind it and stand behind our firefighters and our officers."

Wride was referring to Shante Johnson, who is the widow of Sgt. Derek Johnson of the Draper Police Department. Derek Johnson was shot and killed in 2013.

The bill currently would not provide the extra support retroactively, but Ray said it is possible a substitute bill could be proposed later that would make the changes retroactive in order to help families like the Wrides and Johnsons.

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