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Federal government denies death benefit for Oklahoma City police recruit

Kelley Chase, a father of two young children, was on his way to become an Oklahoma City police officer when he died after a training accident.
by William Crum Modified: November 29, 2013 at 7:33 pm •  Published: November 30, 2013

The federal government has denied a claim for death benefits filed by the widow of Kelley Chase, the Oklahoma City police recruit who died after a training accident.

Elke Meeus is appealing the ruling, said John George, president of the Fraternal Order of Police.

Meeus filed the claim on behalf of herself and the couple's two young children. Chase, 38, died Oct. 13, 2012, of head injuries suffered the previous day during a training exercise.

Meeus also has filed a claim with the city saying she and her children were improperly denied $41,000 in life insurance benefits.

The city hopes to settle that claim in the next few weeks.

The federal public safety officers' death benefit is about $320,000.

Hope Janke, director of the public safety officers' benefits office in the U.S. Department of Justice, denied the federal claim in a letter to Meeus this month.

Chase was ineligible because he had not graduated from the police academy, taken the oath of office or been commissioned as a police officer, Janke wrote.

Some get early commission

George said Tuesday that some agencies commission officers when the police academy begins, and that the grounds for denial amounted to a technicality.

Chase, in the 20th week of the 26-week academy, had passed all of his tests and could have “worked for any agency in the state,” George said.

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by William Crum
OU and Norman High School graduate, formerly worked as a reporter and editor for the Associated Press, the Star Tribune in Minneapolis, and the Norman Transcript. Married, two children, lives in Norman.
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