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Forced retirement of injured Norwalk officer is the ‘ultimate betrayal’

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On September 5, 2017, my husband Officer Phil Roselle went to work as he did for the past 31 years of his life. On that day, during a prescheduled fire arms training, my husband was accidentally shot by a co-worker. Phil thankfully was not killed but subsequently suffered career-ending injuries and has been unable to return to work. Since that day Phil has been battling a number of permanent medical issues directly related to the shooting incident.  For more on the struggles of Phil and other wounded officers, please see The Wounded Blue, a documentary available on Amazon.

During this past year, Phil’s pay was shut off for three consecutive months and he was forced to use his accumulated sick time and vacation time. Phil has lost his ability to earn extra pay (overtime, court time and extra work). I have been advocating on behalf of my husband (because he is too weak to fight) for an entire year to attempt to get justice. Unfortunately, we cannot take legal action against the City of Norwalk to recoup money/damages that we’ve lost due to indemnification. Our living expenses keep increasing yet our income and ability to earn has been compromised by this tragic and preventable shooting incident.

Over the past year, I have had the occasion to speak with the Chief of Police as well as Mayor Rilling about Phil’s declined medical condition as well as to discuss the possibility of  an alternative retirement package (Special Legislation disability retirement) that the City of Norwalk can create that would help my husband and my family. Initially, both the chief and Mayor Rilling pledged their unwavering support for my husband. They did so verbally and during a televised news interview on News 12.

I have been working tirelessly over the last five months with several lawmakers at our State Capitol to create legislation that would provide permanently injured First Responders with 100% disability pay. When a police officer dies in the line of duty, their family members are afforded (rightfully so) statutory and state benefits to include their loved one’s full salary along with tax-free federal and state payouts.

Why is it that our permanently injured first responders who survive get punished for living? As it stands now, my husband will only receive 75% of his pay (taxable) because he survived? I believe this is unjust and wrong. For these reasons, I am fighting for 100% disability pay for all permanently injured first responders in the State of CT.

This week Phil was notified that the City of Norwalk is forcing him to retire with 75% of his pay, even though they are well aware that we have pending legislation that would provide my husband with 100% of his base pay. The Norwalk Police Department contract allows for 18 months of compensation once it is determined that an officer is permanently disabled and not able to work again.

I find it appalling that Mayor Rilling pledged his support and now has turned his back on his officer (my husband) who dedicated 30 plus years of service to the City he loves. In my opinion, this is the ultimate act of betrayal.  My husband is completely devastated by the Mayor’s decision to commence a forced retirement knowing that there is pending legislation that could help Phil and our family.

 

Debbie Roselle

 

8 comments

Nor Res March 24, 2019 at 1:18 pm

Every employee of the City Of Norwalk should be treated the same when they are injured on the job.

Non partisan March 24, 2019 at 5:34 pm

I work in construction

If I get hurt on the job I will get all of 2400 SSDI. Medicade will be my Health provider.

While I respect every 1st responder- I ask why they get significant preferential treatment over the men and women who build our roads we drive on, the sewers and water mains, the building we work and live in. The loggersand fishermen all have higher risks than the average 1st responder. These workers also risk their lives every day.

Consider yourself blessed that you are getting so much more than the rest of society.

Chris Redfield March 24, 2019 at 8:52 pm

75% of pay sounds plenty… No sympathy from me when there’s many, many people who have it a lot worse.

Martin Phillips March 25, 2019 at 1:15 am

Maybe we should work on removing qualified immunity from police officers so that both the co worker and police department would be on the hook rather than taxpayers and the City for negligence on the job. Of course police wouldn’t like that. But it makes more sense than making it so first responders get 100% pay for permanent injury irrespective of in the line of duty. As others have said be thankful your family gets 75%, most other families that have injured or killed loved ones in other lines of work have to do with far less or nothing at all, in often more dangerous fields than a Norwalk police officer. We have a torts system for a reason, we should use it, instead of creating even more unsustainable permanent public employee compensation packages

Milly March 25, 2019 at 6:15 am

It amazes me that people in Norwalk always downplay how dangerous a job it is being a police officer or fireman. The only thing they look at is what they get paid not what the job requires – it only takes one traffic stop with a person with a gun or one out of control fire and a first responder loses their life.
Those are the jobs where any day on the job could be their last alive.

Lisa Brinton March 25, 2019 at 8:33 am

@ Martin, You raise two good points highlighting key differences between the public and private sector: 1) Indemnification – taking away the employee’s right to sue (unless constitutional rights have been violated) and 2) the issue of public pensions that most of us in the private sector will never know.

However, in following this story over the past year and this family’s struggle, it does possess some Norwalk related, ‘head scratching’ questions:
– Why can’t the city and former police chief mayor (who I think will collect two public pensions) wait ~10 more weeks for the state legislation to see if it passes and THEN call it a day? Why now?
– Having had the issue pending this long – why kill hope for this family with 10 weeks left on the clock?
– In light of the year-long effort this administration has taken to pass the Innovation District – Wall St – West Ave property tax credit plan worth $10-$15M for developers, OR hundreds of thousands of dollars wasted on the Milligan lawsuit, is it really concern for the public purse?
– Why silence on this tragic issue from the Mayor’s office (given the unique circumstances) whether it be from #1 or #2 or even PR Representative, Josh Morgan because it has been deafening?

Edwim March 25, 2019 at 11:02 am

I am a retired too.. I was injured on job too. While i could say is first 8 yrs was devastated, but God is so good to me. I got more then what ask for..
Call unto God and u will see his hand over the situation. Cast all your care unto Him.. He knows every thing. I waited patiently n He heard my cry for help. God bless you all.. Peace..

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