SAFE giving 'stop-gap' funding to Melton family

Posted at 7:59 PM, Jul 20, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-20 20:59:05-04

When an officer dies in the line of duty, the bills keep coming in as the family grieves. Federal programs are available, but some don't pay out for six to nine months.

“Many times the public seems to think that when a police officer or firefighter is killed, everything is taken care of; there are no worries whatsoever,” said SAFE Executive Director Sunny Wilson. “They’re like the rest of us, everything goes on, including the bills day to day.”

Kansas City Metropolitan Crime Commission created SAFE, Surviving Spouse and Family Endowment Fund, in 2003 to give immediate financial assistance to families of fallen first responders.

After assisting the Melton family, the organization covering nine counties in Kansas and Missouri will have paid out 20 times - four in the last year alone.

“First payout came 18 days after we started the program. It was $3,000. Now it's $25,000," said Wilson.

A 501c organization, SAFE receives funding through donors and fundraising.

“I have the only charity probably in the entire country that says, 'I want to take your donations but I never want to have to use your money,'” said Wilson.

Since the start of the fund, the frequency of assisting has only increased.

“When we first started, we were averaging in the metro area perhaps one death of this type every 18 months or so. It’s much more often than that nowadays,” said Wilson. "Unfortunately with our program it's much like law enforcement and public safety: It's not a matter of if something happens, it's a matter of when something happens."

Funeral arrangements for Captain Dave Melton have been set. On Friday, visitation will be held at the Jack Reardon Civic Center, located at 520 Minnesota Avenue in Kansas City, Kansas, from 4-7 p.m. Melton will be laid to rest on July 23. The funeral will be held at Children's Mercy Park at 9 a.m. Parking will be available at the Speedway. 

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