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.