Retirees counting on pension fund in Detroit

Widow of officer killed in Detroit worried about family's future


DETROIT – Of the $18 billion in debt owed in Detroit, 1 billion comes from the pensions owed to the city's retirees.

Emergency manager Kevyn Orr has made it clear that in order to turn the debt around, pensions and health benefits will have to change.

Diane Philpot is the widow of a Detroit officer who was killed in the line of duty; she counts on his benefit money to pay her bills each month.

Philpot's husband Jerry was killed on May 25th 1995; he was shot while investigating gang activity in southwest Detroit. 

Diane runs an organization called Michigan Concerns of Police Survivors.

"We rely on the very small pensions they give us just to make ends meet," she said


--Jerry Philpot killed in the line of duty in Detroit.

But if Detroit's bankruptcy application is accepted by a federal judge than pensions for the survivors of fallen police and firefighters will be at risk.

"To be able to take that away in medical and insurance is going to devastate everyone. It's a horrible thing to even think about," said Philpot.

Spouses of fallen officers do get a death benefit, as well as tuition coverage if their kids go to a public Michigan college. But, Philpot and many others rely on the pensions; Her's is 24,000 a year.

"We are not doing anything, you know we have two old cars, there's no payments on them, everything is being paid for in cash just in case something happens," Philpot said.

Philpot's daughter, who was only a baby when her father died, is now in college. Philpot estimates 50 to 60 spouses of cops killed in the line of duty in Detroit could be hurt by the bankruptcy.

"Most of the survivors I've talked to are worried about losing their homes and even feeding their kids so, it's a very scary time for all of us," she said.