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Chairman’s Message

Posted on Wednesday, March 10, 2010 at 12:00PM
Posted by Andy Schlenker

Several months ago, I informed you of LDF’s newest benefit plan: firearm coverage for retirees. I will refer to this new plan as LDF Benefit “Plan V”. Immediately, a high level of interest sparked a great number of questions and inquiries. Many were answered quickly and readily, but some raised thought-provoking issues which warranted further discussion among the LDF Board of Trustees. The result was an opportunity to review the plan, make some adjustments where appropriate, and coordinate efforts with PORAC and RAM to ensure that the final version is the best it can be. Through many meetings, legal analysis, and feedback from all of you, we have amended the original Plan V and now feel comfortable with calling it complete and ready to go.

Essentially, Plan V coverage provides three forms of protection: (1) Appeals from the denial of a CCW; (2) Criminal and civil defense arising out of the discharge of a firearm; and, (3) Criminal defense arising out of a charge of illegal possession of a weapon in or out of state – so called “H.R. 218 coverage.” Please let me elaborate:

CCW DENIAL: If you are retired and your department refuses to provide you with a CCW permit, then LDF will pay all of the costs and attorney fees necessary for you to appeal that denial. One of the most significant changes we made to this program was to provide retroactive coverage. Typically, one must have already been enrolled in LDF before engaging in an act giving rise to the need for a legal defense in order to receive coverage. However, it became apparent that many of you going through the retirement process would not have had the opportunity to enroll in RAM / Plan V before the CCW denial occurs. Usually, the day you retire is the same day you obtain (or are denied) a CCW permit. Since you cannot join RAM until after retirement occurs, the timing seemed to present a problem. Accordingly, we have modified the plan to allow any existing PORAC/LDF member an additional ten days from their separation of service to join RAM and enroll in Plan V to receive the legal defense to any CCW denial which occurred within those ten days.

CRIMINAL/CIVIL COVERAGE: In my opinion, here is the most important aspect of this new program. If you are confronted with a situation which requires you to discharge your firearm in self defense, or the defense of others, LDF will pay all of the costs associated with defending you in any criminal or civil proceeding arising out of that shooting. A few of the recent changes include a confirmation that this program will cover you throughout the United States, but requires you to have had a valid CCW permit as of the time of the weapon discharge. Presently, PORAC/LDF has panel attorneys situated throughout a significant portion of the United States (i.e., in almost 30 States). Thus, an immediate response is almost assured. If the shooting occurs in an area where we do not presently have a panel attorney, we will find a qualified attorney to defend you as quickly as possible.

H.R. 218 COVERAGE: Pursuant to the Law Enforcement Safety Act of 2004, the Federal Government provided those “Qualified Retired Law Enforcement Officers” the right to carry their firearms in states other than the one where the CCW permit was issued. Recent court challenges are thus far upholding the federal legislation, and many departments are issuing CCW permits with the “H.R. 218 endorsement”. Accordingly, if you are retired, have a valid CCW permit, and are traveling in a different state where you are charged with illegal possession of a firearm, then under Plan V, you will be provided an attorney to defend you against that charge. Please note, the federal legislation has very strict and specific requirements which must be met in order for you to qualify for the federal protection. Our initial version of Plan V essentially mimicked those federal requirements. However, upon further reflection and analysis, we decided to provide the legal defense even if you do not meet all of the qualifications set forth by the Federal legislation. While at the outset, it is good that you will be provided an attorney to assist you against the charge, the burden is on you to ensure that you do qualify for protection under “H.R. 218” so that your attorney can mount a meaningful defense.

EMPLOYMENT-RELATED ACTIVITY: This new program does NOT cover you for any actions taken within the scope of employment. So, if after retirement you are working as a reserve officer, private investigator, engaging in private security employment (or any other form of employment) as of the time of the event giving rise to the need for legal representation, you will NOT be covered. This plan is designed and specifically focused on those who are retired. If you want to be afforded legal protection during any post-retirement public safety employment, then contact LDF for the availability of any plan in which you may be able to enroll in addition to Plan V.

There are bound to be additional questions as you review and consider this new coverage. Please refer to our website, where a list of FAQ’s will be provided, and feel free to contact your Trustee, PORAC, or RAM, with additional questions or concerns.

PORAC Legal Defense Administrator Ed Fishman Testimony: Law Enforcement Use of Body Cameras.