FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                BJA

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 5, 2001                                                                        202/307-0703





WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Justice Department today announced that it has begun approving death benefit claims for the families of  public safety officers – firefighters, police, EMT’s – who died in the World Trade Center attack on September 11.  Within 60 days of receiving the first claim, the Department of Treasury paid the one-time financial award to the first 150 families. The awards,  totaling $37.5 million, are provided by the Justice Department’s Public Safety Officers’ Benefits (PSOB) program. 

As a result of the recent enactment of the USA PATRIOT bill, each eligible family will receive a tax exempt benefit payment of $250,000 -- an increase of nearly $100,000 over the previous award level.  In addition, eligible survivors can qualify for educational assistance through the Public Safety Officers’ Educational Assistance Program (PSOEA).

            “The World Trade Center tragedy was a moment of indefinable horror and grief for this

nation, but it was also a day of uncommon valor, ” said Attorney General John Ashcroft.  “I am pleased that we are providing, as quickly as possible, a small measure of relief to the families of these heroes.”

President Bush directed the Department of Justice to expedite the processing of payments to the families of public safety officers killed at the World Trade Center. The Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), a component of the Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs (OJP), administers the death benefits program.  The approved claims are the first of about 400 expected to be received by BJA.       

“Every one of us has been changed forever by this horrible tragedy,” said OJP Assistant Attorney General Deborah J. Daniels.   “In the aftermath of this unprecedented loss of public safety officers, I am grateful that we are able to provide accelerated assistance so that these families can begin to rebuild their lives.”

The PSOB program provides benefits to individuals serving a public safety agency in an official capacity, on a paid or volunteer basis.  This includes, but is not limited to, law enforcement officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians, ambulance crew members, and corrections officers.

Additional information about OJP or its programs can be found on its Internet Website at: Specific information regarding the PSOB program can be found at:

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For additional information, contact Charles Miller at 202/514-2007.