Thin Blue Line fundraising plate passes Michigan Senate

LANSING, MICH. - The Michigan Senate today approved a bill to create a ‘Thin Blue Line’ fundraising license plate to support families of officers injured or killed in the line of duty.

“This is awesome; we are very excited,’’ said Scott L. Reinacher, president of Thin Blue Line of Michigan, which lobbied for the fundraising plate. “I know there is a great amount of support from the public, so we’re hoping this will give us an opportunity to raise money and put it towards those who serve.’’

The fundraising plate would have the words ‘Thin Blue Line’ and ‘Michigan’ on it. Proceeds would go to the Thin Blue Line of Michigan. The Howell-based non-profit provides support to the families of injured or deceased law enforcement officers and those in public safety.

Bill sponsor Sen. Mike Nofs, R-Battle Creek, said he is hopeful the bill will be passed in the House and signed into law this year.  He introduced a similar bill in 2015, but it didn’t advance.

“There are a lot of specialty plates out there, but I think there is also a silent majority who support police and would like to purchase a Thin Blue Line plate to show their support,’’ Nofs said. “The Thin Blue Line organization does great things.''

For each plate purchased, $25 would go into a designated fund within the State Treasury. The bill requires that the money be spent to assist families of injured or deceased officers of public safety agencies.

“Raising money for cops is not easy, even in good times,’’ said Reinacher, a retired Michigan State Police trooper. “The perception among the general public is that everything that affects police is taken care of by their employer. And that’s not the case.’’

There are more than 100,000 public safety employees in Michigan, which includes police, firefighters and emergency medical workers. About 1,600 officers are injured and an average of four officers are killed in the line of duty each year in Michigan, according to a Senate Fiscal Agency report.

Last week, Norton Shores Police Officer Jonathan Ginka, 34, died after his police cruiser crashed into a tree along Henry Street.  His funeral was held on Tuesday.

“The statistics display the occupational dangers public safety officers experience,’’ according to the report. “Because public safety compensation and benefits vary across Michigan agencies, sometimes a compensation or benefit plan is not sufficient and leaves an officer and his or her family struggling financially during a critical time.

“The Thin Blue Line of Michigan provides important financial assistance and additional supports to officers and their families, sometimes from the moment they are injured,’’ the Senate Fiscal Agency report states.

Michigan already has fundraising plates for 15 state-supported universities along with specialty causes and organizations such as Boy Scouts of America, Ducks Unlimited and the American Red Cross.

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