FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEBJA
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 7, 1999202/307-0703

JUSTICE DEPARTMENT EXPANDS DEATH BENEFITS PROGRAM

Education Assistance reaches Families of Federal, State, and Local Public Safety Officers

WASHINGTON, DC - The Justice Department announced today that it is amending the regulations governing the Federal Law Enforcement Dependents' Assistance (FLEDA) program which will extend the program's benefits to the families of federal, state, and local public safety officers. In the past, the FLEDA program has provided higher education financial assistance to eligible survivors of Federal police officers whose death or permanent disability resulted while in the line of duty. The new changes will allow for this assistance to apply to all federal, state, and local public safety officers, including federal police and fire fighters, state and local law enforcement, and members of federal, state, and local public rescue squads. To reflect these changes, the title of the program is now being changed from the Federal Law Enforcement Dependents' Assistance program to the "Public Safety Officers' Educational Assistance (PSOEA) program.

"Public safety officers put their lives on the line everyday to ensure public safety," said . "When an officer loses their life or is permanently or totally disabled, the family should not have its grief compounded with concerns regarding how to continue the children's education. The Justice Department is proud that the PSOE program can provide a small measure of comfort to families in the lieu of such tragedy and can once again illustrate our continued recognition of the sacrifices and invaluable contributions made by all public safety officers to the nation's safety".

Originating in the Federal Law Enforcement Dependents' Assistance Act of 1996 and administered by the Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), FLEDA was initially created to enhance the appeal of service in civilian Federal law enforcement agencies. Recognizing that the one-time financial benefit of the Public Safety Officers' Benefits (PSOB) program is often consumed by basic needs in the aftermath of tragedy, PSOEA's sole purpose is intended to defer educational expenses through an established monthly allowance. Presently 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.

For more information regarding the PSOEA program contact the Bureau of Justice Assistance at 888/744-6513. Additional information about BJA or its programs is available at: http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bja.

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For additional information, contact Doug Johnson at 202/616-3559 or Sheila Jerusalem at

202/616-3227.