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Civic Club Buys Insurance For Local Police

June 23, 1988

LOCKPORT, Ill. (AP) _ A civic group has taken a novel approach to supporting its local police by taking out a $1 million insurance policy to cover the township’s eight officers if they are killed in the line of duty.

The insurance idea came up after the deaths of two Will County auxiliary deputies during a 1983 crime spree in Homer Township, said James Clarage, president of the Homer Men for Responsible Government.

″We really felt bad about what happened with that incident,″ Clarage said. ″There’s nothing you can really do to offset something like that. This was just something we felt obligated to do to show that we were concerned.″

In any future tragedy, he said, ″We wanted to make sure that it wouldn’t cause hardship ... to the families of officers.″

The coverage, presented Wednesday to Will County Sheriff John Johnsen, would provide up to $200,000 for families of each officer killed and up to $1 million total. The policy took effect March 1.

Dues from the 100-member social and civic organization are paying the $3,000 annual premiums. The insurance applies to the sheriff and the seven full-time deputies who patrol Homer Township, a small unincorporated community of 20,000 residents located 30 miles southwest of Chicago.

After a two-year search, the club got Lloyds of London to provide the policy, State’s Attorney Ed Masters said.

Clarage said he contacted about a dozen insurance agents, while local agent Samuel Maranto talked to more than 20 companies.

″Everybody said, ’Oh, no problem,‴ Clarage said. But later the companies found they had no experience with civic groups buying insurance for local police, and no policies were offered.

″This is a rather unique situation in their making this very gracious and very heart-warming donation,″ Masters said. ″I think that there’s a need to protect police officers. They put their life on the line.″

Clarage said many families of slain officers get only $25,000 in death benefits from government agencies.

In July 1983, two people fatally shot a man and a woman who were parked in a secluded area in the township. Two auxiliary deputies, Steven Mayer, 22, and Dennis Foley, 50, responded to the shots and were gunned down.

The bloody rampage ended only after a fifth person was shot and killed.

Clarage said he’s unsure how much money was given to the deputies’ families, but he believes the amounts were minimal.

He suggested that many officers have a hard time getting life insurance policies because of the nature of their work. Bob Schultz, a spokesman for the Illinois Insurance Information Service, said he was unaware of any problems.

When a police officer is killed, people often take up private collections, but there are limits to what can be raised, Clarage said.

″My idea was, why not have them contribute, but do it ahead of time, and do it in the form of purchasing some really meaningful coverage,″ he said.

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