FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEBJA
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 5, 1997202/307-0703

BJA MAKES FIRST AWARD UNDER NEW FEDERAL

LAW ENFORCEMENT DEPENDENTS ASSISTANCE ACT

WASHINGTON, D.C.--The Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) recently made the first award under the Federal Law Enforcement Dependents Assistance Act (FLEDA), which provides direct financial assistance for higher education expenses to spouses and children of federal law enforcement officers killed or permanently and totally disabled in the line of duty. The award of $14,544 went to William Degan, Jr., the oldest son of Marshal William Degan, who was fatally injured at Ruby Ridge, Idaho in 1992.

"Federal law enforcement officers put their lives on the line everyday to ensure our public safety," said BJA Director Nancy Gist. "When an officer loses his life or is permanently or totally disabled, his family should not have its grief compounded worrying about where they will get the money to continue the children's education. BJA is proud that the FLEDA program can provide some small measure of comfort to such families."

BJA administers the FLEDA program and also administers the Public Safety Officers' Benefits (PSOB) program, which provides families of officers who are killed or totally and permanently disabled a one-time benefit of $138,461. This money often only covers basic needs and is not sufficient to support the costs of higher education. The FLEDA Act of 1996, P.L. 104-238, makes program benefits available retroactively to the families of federal law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty on or after March 1, 1992. The effective date for the families of permanently and totally disabled Federal law enforcement officers is October 3, 1996. At this time, using PSOB records, BJA has identified 48 families that meet the eligibility criteria for the program.

FLEDA benefits can be used for educational expenses that include tuition, room and board, books, supplies, and fees consistent with educational, professional, and vocational objectives. Full-time students are eligible to receive $404 per month, three-quarter-time students are eligible to receive $304, and part-time students are eligible to receive $202.

In addition to William Degan, who recently graduated from Boston College, several other families have applied for the FLEDA benefit. William's brother Bryan, currently in college, has also applied under the program and will receive an award in the near future.

BJA has contacted the 48 eligible families to ensure that if these dependents wish to attend an institute of higher learning they receive appropriate FLEDA assistance. For additional information about the FLEDA program or BJA, visit its website at: http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bja

# # #

BJA97-113

After hours page Doug Johnson at 1-888/582-6750