Policing is an ever-evolving vocation. This we know. Despite the speed and degree of change in this way of life we have chosen, some things do stay the same.
It’s occurred to me that although we should take the time to plan and map out our final wishes, we often don’t. I am talking about a topic that most people don’t want to discuss: death. What will happen when I go? That is a haunting question. I say haunting because although once in awhile we think about that--say maybe while attending a funeral--we don’t do anything about it for ourselves after that brief thought.
When I was first hired by the police department, there was all sorts of paperwork to fill out. Up to that point of my life, I had never seen so much paperwork and lines calling for my signature.
However, there was one piece of paper that was handed to me whose weight and importance didn’t really sink in then. That paper asked me to name my beneficiaries for death and disability insurance. Being 21 and unmarried, I didn’t give it much thought and looked at the human resource officer presenting the paper.
I asked who I should list? The reply, “your parents.” And so I did. That was it. I didn’t give it much more thought then that. Hell, I was 21 and in my prime. Academy strong and fit to take on anyone. I wasn’t going to die anytime soon! I still had too much to do.
However, now, after having attended one too many funerals for officers taken from us before their time I have realized there is a problem in law enforcement. That problem is hurting our families, too. The problem is not having enough insurance if something should unexpectedly happen to us, or having no insurance at all.
It hits the family really hard when you are gone. It’s also really scary for the family when they realize that now, they have to go on without you. The reality sets in that they have to handle the everyday grind of life. How are they going to afford everything now that they are alone? How are they going to pay the bills, credit cards, cars, mortgage, kids’ college?
The “Police Family” will step up to the plate and do everything in its power to take care of the widow and the family. Making donations, setting up bank accounts, trust funds for kids, benefit nights with silent and live auctions, etc. etc. etc.
However at a certain point, reality sets in, and life moves on. The close friends will stay close, but life does move on. People go back to their lives. Not forgetting, but now not being as involved.
This is reality. And it is harsh.
It is imperative for each officer to go to their respective human resource division and examine their life insurance policy. Ensure that your beneficiary is correctly updated. If you don’t have life insurance, even if you are single and have no children, you should obtain at least minimum insurance. It is not uncommon to see a $15,000 fee for a proper burial these days.
It has guidelines to assist us in formulating our “plan.” This guide becomes a tremendous help to families during these unfortunate times, especially when the spouse who is left behind doesn’t normally do the family finances.
This document also enables them to have easier access to all of the investments and policies you have set up, because they are all right in one document. Without this document and proper organization, the family might not collect on a policy that they have forgotten about over the years (after all how many times have we obligatorily filled out the index card for $1,000 of insurance here and there through different companies?)
Will your family know where all the policies are? All those small policies add up.
Michael J. Aziz is a 10 year member of the Abington Massachusetts Police department. He currently serves at the rank of Detective. He is a police academy instructor for Use of Force and Defensive Tactics and is the Department’s Honor Guard Commander. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.