Evangeline

Jun 10, 2011 11:20 PM by Maddie Garrett

Should Agents Killed in Ville Platte Get Special Death Benefits

A Louisiana lawmaker wants to make death benefits available for State employees killed in the line of duty, such as the two insurance investigators killed Tuesday in Ville Platte.

There's no doubt Tuesday's double-murder suicide still weighs heavily on the small town of Ville Platte. Many residents now turning their thoughts to the two victims Rhett Jeansonne and Kim Sledge and their families.

"I think most everyone around here, all of our hearts go out to the families of both of the agents who were killed," said Ville Platte resident Jessie Vidrine.

But Sen. Eric Lafleur (D-28) wants to take those sympathies and condolences a step further by introducing a substitute bill in the Senate Finance Committee that would create death benefits for state employees killed in the line of duty.

And though people in Ville Platte may not know the agents Jeansonne and Sledge, many agree with Lafleur's proposed bill.

"I would believe that anybody who worked for the government or for the state should have equal benefits, simple as that," said Brad Vidrine of Ville Platte.

"You know I think the government should do all that they can do and I think that would definitely be a plus," said Jessie Vidrine.

State law gives $250,000 to the surviving spouse of an officer or firefighter killed in the line of duty, and $25,000 to each dependent child. But currently State law does not cover State workers like Jeansonne and Sledge, who were killed while conducting a fraud investigation for the LA Department of Insurance.

"They were actually killed in the line of duty, while they were carrying out their job duties so I think they should," said Jessie Vidrine.

But not everyone agreed. Ville Platte resident Roy Welsh is the son of a police officer, and said he has mixed emotions about Lafleur's bill.

"Police and fire, they're out there, they're taking those risks every day. Where as insurance agents, I don't know," said Welsh.

Lafleur said the law would apply to State employees doing investigative work in pursuit of potential criminal activity and killed while working. His bill will first be presented to the Senate Finance Committee Saturday. If the bill passes, it'll head to the senate floor, the house appropriations committee then to the house floor.

 

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