PRESS RELEASE: Invoking a section of the Florida Highway Policy Manual, the FHP has made a bureaucratic decision to rule that the unfortunate death of Trooper Bill Dyer in October is not a line of duty death. As a result, Trooper Dyers’s family is denied the death benefits that a Trooper who dies or is killed on the job is entitled to.
The facts are clear. Trooper Dyer was on duty patrolling on I-10 when he suffered a medical emergency and lost control of his patrol car. He was transported to the Tallahassee Memorial Hospital where he subsequently died. Cause of death was reported as a stroke.
Sam A. Cabral, President of the International Union of Police Associations (I.U.P.A.) said, “Although the Director of the FHP did express his condolences to the family, More needs to be done. The FHP, and perhaps the Florida legislature, needs to carefully review the policy manual to ensure that no other family suffers the way trooper Dyer’s has.”
It is not clear what specific agency or official made the decision, but it is based on a statement in the manual defines a line of duty death as, “The death of an active member by felonious or accidental means during the course of performing police functions while on or off duty.”
In a subsequent section the manual also states that one of their objectives is, “To ensure that the family of members(s ) killed or seriously injured are provided with the support and guidance necessary to see them through the tragedy.”
Recent statistics from 2011 show that not only have officers deaths increased by 16% in 2010 and an additional 13% in 2011, almost. Half of those were the result of vehicle incidents or other causes, not the result of “felonious means.” In fact, vehicular incidents were the second highest cause of death among police officers last year coupled with the fact that Florida leads the nation in line of duty deaths in 2011 warranting a closer look at how the FHP treats its troopers and their families.
According to Cabral the FHP is remiss in failing to realize that a significant number of officers suffer from stress related diseases throughout the course of their careers that can damage or kill them at unpredictable moments. Cabral said, “It is within reason to assume losing control of the car, while not the immediate cause of his death, can readily be attributed to a job related disability.
To make matters worse, even if the bureaucratic decision stands, the FHP will not honor trooper Dyer’s service as they have other officers who have died under similar circumstances. In the past, a trooper died when his cruiser was struck from behind by another trooper’s vehicle. That officer’s picture hangs in a place of honor on a wall in the academy honoring those who died in the line of duty as it should.
Cabral concluded his statement saying, “While the FHP declines to honor one of its own, neither the I.U.P.A. nor the Troopers of Florida 6000 and their other colleagues will forget Trooper Dyer or the insensitivity of the FHP command.”