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Maryland Denies Scholarship Promised to Towson University Applicant, Children of Baltimore Officer Killed in Line of Duty

Their father was killed in the line of duty.  They were told there was a scholarship waiting for them.  Now they’re being told ‘too bad’ because of a technicality.

This story has been published with the permission of Law Enforcement Today.  Writer, Rob O’Donnell, reporting. Photo credit: Law Enforcement Today

MARYLAND – When a Police Officer swears an oath to protect and serve, that oath forever becomes a contract.

A contract that they will faithfully fulfill their duties, that they will uphold the Constitution and laws of both the state and municipality they serve.

That they will represent themselves, their department, and the citizens with dignity and respect.

In return, as part of that contract, their employer promises that they will provide them with the tools, training, and resources necessary in order to serve that community.

That they will compensate them in accordance to financial agreements agreed upon, and that God forbid they make the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty, that their families will never be forgotten and taken care of.

This is why scholarships such as the Edward T. and Mary A. Conroy and Jean B. Cryor Memorial Scholarship have been enacted into law in Maryland.

This scholarship provides for:

-The children or the surviving spouse (not remarried) of a member of the United States Armed Forces who died or 100% permanent disability as result of military service

-A veteran who suffers a service-connected disability of 25% or greater

-The children, or surviving spouse of a victim of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks who died as a result of the attacks

-The children, or surviving spouse (not remarried) of a state or local public safety employee or volunteer who died in the line of duty or who was 100 percent disabled in the line of duty.

-The children, or surviving spouse (who has not remarried) of a school employee who, as a result of an act of violence either died in the line of duty or sustained an injury in the line of duty that rendered the school employee 100% disabled.

The above legislative scholarship is a great asset to those families who have sacrificed so much and can in no way repay the tragic losses these eligible families have suffered.  But it does ease the financial student debt burden and show these families, especially the children who have lost everything that they are not forgotten.

Now let’s look at and remember Police Officer Thomas Russell Portz, Jr. of the Baltimore City Police Department, End of Watch October 20, 2010.

Officer Portz was killed in an automobile crash when his patrol car struck the back of a firetruck that stopped on Route 40 near Calhoun Street.

The firetruck had responded to reports of an injured person lying in the highway median strip and had stopped in the left lane to ask a film crew if they had seen the subject.

Officer Portz’s patrol car collided with the back of the stopped truck at a high rate of speed, causing him to suffer fatal injuries.

Officer Portz had served with the Baltimore Police Department for just under 10 years. He is survived by his wife and three children.

Now let’s focus on Jessica Portz, who is the widow of Police Officer Thomas Portz.

They had been married for 9 years when the tragic accident had taken her world from her back in 2010, and has raised their three children to be the best that they can be, but not without challenges.

Fast forward to now, nine years later where their oldest daughter Kirstin is getting ready to go off to college, finishing up he senior year of high school, and applying to colleges.

Kirstin, to the credit of her mother’s guidance was recently notified that she was accepted to her first choice for her post high school education, Towson University a Maryland State college to pursue her dream of becoming a Physician’s Assistant.

Since Tommy’s death, Jessica was informed that because her husband, a Baltimore Maryland Police Officer was killed in the line of duty, that if her children decide to go to a Maryland state college or university that they would benefit from the scholarship enacted into law specifically for the surviving children and spoused such as the Portz’s.

As Jessica began to gather the necessary documents to pursue the scholarships application process for her daughter Kirstin, it was discovered that there is a oversight or flaw to where the Portz’s are now being told that they are not eligible for the Edward T. and Mary A. Conroy and Jean B. Cryor Memorial Scholarship.

This, even though the intent of this law, was written, debated, and passed for Maryland Public Safety Officers, specifically applicable to the sacrifice the Portz family has made.

Here is where this problem arises and what the Portz family, college acceptance in hand is being told.

Although Officer Thomas Portz was a Baltimore Maryland Public Safety Officer, and was killed in the line of duty while working in Baltimore, and his daughter was accepted to an eligible Maryland college, he resided in southern Pennsylvania, a home his surviving family still calls home today.

Although many Maryland departments do not mandate a residency requirement, it has been found that if they make the ultimate sacrifice the scholarship enacted specifically for them does require the applicant reside in Maryland at the time of application.

This is a legislative flaw that needs to be fixed, and needs to be fixed now.

Amending this law is not new territory.

It was discovered that the original law never accounted for adopted children or step children of the described benefactors, which after being brought to light was swiftly corrected by the Maryland legislature.

I am asking Governor Larry Hogan, a steadfast supporter of Law Enforcement to become the spearhead in righting this wrong.

The Portz Family have given enough to citizens of Maryland, a debt that could never be paid. It’s now time to live up to that contract that Kirstin will never be forgotten and that we will never forget.

In the meantime, the family has set up a GoFundMe page. While Annapolis decides if the Portz Family will be forgotten or not, let’s show them that their loss and sacrifice will never be forgotten.


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