Bill to create fund for Colorado families of fallen first responders passes House committee

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DENVER – Rachel Swasey, the widow of fallen police officer Garrett Swasey, provided tearful testimony on Wednesday in front of a Colorado House committee.

Swasey is urging lawmakers to support a bill that would ease the financial burden of Colorado families of fallen first responders.

The legislation, Senate Bill 247, has passed unanimously in the Senate and the House Committee on Local Government. It is now set to go for a second reading on the House floor.

Garrett Swasey, who was a police officer at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs, was killed in 2015 during a shooting at a Planned Parenthood.

“Three days later, my family lost our medical benefits,” Rachel Swasey told lawmakers. “Our son was 10 years old and our daughter was 6 years old.”

Swasey's story is bringing attention to the fact there is no immediate safety net for many agencies across Colorado to provide continued health insurance for dependents of fallen police officers and firefighters.

“This is a time when you should not have to face one more burden or hurdle,” said bill co-sponsor Rep. Lois Landgraf.

The legislation would create a statewide fund for police and fire agencies to voluntarily pay into.

The fund would extend health and dental insurance for families of fallen first responders for one year.

The bill's provisions are similar to benefits that were created by lawmakers for families of state employees after the 2016 death of Colorado State Patrol trooper Cody Donahue.

“We want their path to be a smoother path than what we experienced,” Swasey said.

Three Colorado deputies have been killed in the line of duty since Swasey started her campaign.

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