The benefits program for the deceased officer will take care of his family

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Edmond police officers pay tribute to Sgt. CJ Nelson at the funeral of their deceased comrade July 25 at Crossings Community Church. (Photo by Marion Cain)

EDMOND — The outpouring of community support for the family of late police officer CJ Nelson ran the gamut from the lemonade stand, car wash, memorial run, rifle raffle and cash donations.

The 38-year-old husband and father died July 19 when his police motorcycle was hit by a truck a day before his 13th birthday with the Edmond Police Department.

He leaves behind his wife Jenefer and their children, Emily and Connor.

“As this is a death in service, they will be taken care of,” police spokeswoman Emily Ward said of workers’ compensation and retirement benefits.

The family will also continue to receive emotional support from other police families.

“We want to be in their lives for a long time,” Ward said. Many officers were her friends, their wives are friends, their children are friends, she said.

They are all faced with the first death of an officer in the exercise of their duties in the history of the Edmond Sûreté.

“Whenever an officer loses his life in the line of duty, there are no words to describe it. A widow woke up this morning without her husband, and the children woke up without their father. And that’s the reality that every officer faces when they put on this uniform,” Mark Nelson, president, posted on the Oklahoma City Fraternal Order of Police’s Facebook page.

The non-profit group Officer Down Memorial Page added Sgt. Christopher James Nelson on his website last month. His death is one of 153 in the United States recorded so far in 2022.

“Death in the line of duty is a possibility that families of police officers should be prepared for,” the organization says. “The survivors’ ability to cope with a death in the line of duty is directly affected by the department’s response to the tragedy and the family’s knowledge of their rights and benefits.”

Oklahoma workers’ compensation law provides for actual funeral expenses not to exceed $10,000 as well as lump sum payments of $100,000 to the spouse and $25,000 to each child.

Weekly benefits from the date of death are based on the officer’s salary. They must continue as long as the surviving spouse remains single and until the children turn 18 or 23 if enrolled in school full time.

Edmond City Attorney Stephen Murdock said that in the tragic case of Officer Nelson, the weekly benefit is $667.23 per week for his wife and $142.98 for each of his two children.

Additionally, all city employees receive a $25,000 life insurance benefit and a $25,000 accidental death benefit paid by the city, Murdock said.

Nelson was a member of the Edmond Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 136, which will provide a retirement benefit to his wife.

“Since he’s been on duty, she’s been getting his pension as if he’d worked 20 years,” Ward said. “Basically, it’s 50% of what he was earning at the time of his death.”

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