Voluntary program aiding families of deceased troopers ends after decades

LANSING (AP) — The state of Michigan has ended a decades-long voluntary program that provided money to families of deceased troopers.

An official said participation has "declined steadily in modern times" due to the availability of life insurance and changes in retirement benefits, according to a March letter obtained by WOOD-TV.

The program began in 1936 and worked this way: Troopers, active or retired, would pay $2 to $5 after an officer's death, WOOD-TV said.

Families would get $10,000 to $17,000 depending on the health of the fund, the TV station said.

Amanda Baker, a state police budget official, said the department had no authority from the Legislature to administer the program and couldn't find an outside group to take charge of it.

She acknowledged in a letter to participants that the program provided a "long-standing benefit with historic ties for our retired members." It was suspended in 2021.

Anyone with a balance in the fund because of advance payments will get a refund, Baker said.

"Inside that envelope with the check, there was no explanation, no apologies, there was no breakdown of amounts. It was basically, 'Here's your check, trust us and we're done,'" said Ken Knowlton, a retired detective who had paid into the program for 45 years.

State police stopped enrolling troopers in 2018 but never told retirees who were still paying.