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Insurer Limits Benefits for Traumatized Newtown Responders

December 27, 2012  | 

Some of the police officers who responded to the school shooting in Newtown are so traumatized they haven't been working, but they have to use sick time and could soon be at risk of going without a paycheck, a union official said Wednesday.

The union, Council 15 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, is seeking more generous assistance in talks with the town's insurer. It is also reaching out to lawmakers and the governor's office with proposals to modify state law and expand workers' compensation benefits for officers who witness horrific crime scenes.

"The insurer for the town has taken a position that these officers are entitled to only what the statute allows. Unfortunately for these officers, the statute doesn't allow any benefits," said Eric Brown, an attorney for the union, which represents nearly 4,000 officers around Connecticut.

Read the full Associated Press story.

Comments (21)

Displaying 1 - 21 of 21

Tim Hall @ 12/27/2012 1:30 PM

This makes me sick that these insurance companies are only about the bottom line dollar and not what is right. Some of these brave officers are probably suffering from PTSD and should be afforded some benefit. Sounds like a work comp case to me.

tedb @ 12/27/2012 1:48 PM

I realize that what these officers experienced was most unpleasant, but I seriously question the caliber of peace-officers we are hiring these days. I first started in law enforcement in 1968 and am still in it, albeit in a desk job now. Traditionally, the cops of my day experienced things just as horrible as this and most of us were also military combat veterans. We were expected to get the job done and deal with it. There was no such thing as "PTSD" or other excuses for psychiatric perpetuity. I feel for these officers but they knew what the job entailed when they took it, so suck it up and do your job or get out of the field. There's too damn much "touchy-feely" crap in law enforcement these days and it interfers with getting the job done. The public depends on us to make quick and correct decisions and not be stressed about air or whatever other excuse we can find to justify lack of performance.

PeteS @ 12/27/2012 1:56 PM


Now you have gone a done it...I will be sitting back eating popcorn watching the fireworks...

MarcK @ 12/27/2012 2:13 PM

PeteS can you please pass the salt for my popcorn "sipping on my soda".....

Lonzo @ 12/27/2012 2:20 PM

Ted...Ted...Ted...You poor ignorant A$$. I too have been a cop for decades. Nearly 4 to be exact. While I did not serve in the military, I have seen my share of grisly, gut tearing, heart rending crime scenes, accidents, suicides and the other lovely sights we are apt to see during our careers. I must solidly disagree with your assessment that there was no PTSD. What is now known as PTSD was called being "shell shocked" and other names before it was given a true diagnostic term. I too don't agree with all of the warm and fuzzy that seems to have come to the fore front but to say that you just have to "suck it up" is asnine. How many times have you gone in and seen 20 babies shot and killed? Or for that matter how many times have you seen 26 dead bodies that were the result of one crime? I've never come close....and hope and pray that I won't before I retire.

And speaking of retirement, if I have done my math correctly you have been a L E for 44 years. I'm assuming that you were at least 21 when you started so you must be nearing retirement. As a desk jockey maybe you are in the right spot, but I truly believe that your thinking has been clouded by the florescent lights and inhaling ink fumes. No one could be that cold and callused as to think that going to a crime scene like that encountered in Newtown would not affect every aspect of your life....for your lifetime. Some people cope better than others.

Lonzo @ 12/27/2012 2:29 PM

I became so engrossed in Ted that I forgot the part about the insurance company. I'm guessing that this is probably their workman's comp. company. If that's the case they need to appeal any decisions that the insurance company denies. The insurance company is only interested in money, I've seen it too many times, somebody gets hurt and they don't want to pay. To deny claims or benefits resulting from this tragedy would be absolutely unbelievable.

tedb @ 12/27/2012 3:27 PM

Only the truly ignorant use the word ignorant in referring to their brother (and sister) officers. I served with the First Cav Division in 'Nam, so perhaps that made me somewhat blunted to mass casualties, although I am not as hard-hearted as you seem to believe. Like you, I have also seen multiple bodies in various stages of post death and it did indeed affect me and will continue to do so. I find that I cry easier in my old age than I used to. We could probably compare horror stories over a cup of coffee and make each other very sad, but that is not the point here. I meant that the "feel good" title of PTSD had not been invented by the warm fuzzy people in 1968 when I started, as an excuse to propagate all the psychatric BS they have foisted on us over the years. Yes, those officers underwent a horrible experience at Newtown and I don't envy them. But the job still needs to be done and there are still others out there who need them to return to work and make sound and reasonable decisions. If they cannot do that, then they should step aside and allow the department to replace them with those who can do so. There are other lines of work available if they cannot function under duress. I also pray that you, me, nor any other officer ever has to undergo what these folks have experienced recently, but unfortunately, in the society we have helped to create, it will happen again. God bless them and you, and all others who took on the job for better or worse. Incidentally, I have retired once, but couldn't stand it so went to work for a desk drone outfit. Stay safe. (And PeteS is my partner, sits at the desk next to me.)

PeteS @ 12/27/2012 3:44 PM

Sitting next to Tedb is no easy task.

Candy Carpenter @ 12/27/2012 3:47 PM

Let me get this straight those officers were trying to save the lives of innocent small children and you are going to punish them for that???? I hope your child never needs saving if you have any, poor kid(s).
I dare you make them go without a paycheck. They proabably have kids themselves and more than li9kely maybe even a spouse. You are going punish them. How dare you!!! Are sure 100% sure that this is America, you make being a American shameful. I am a shame of you. How dare you. Those were small tiny little children. THey had run past dead bodies for their own safely. HOW DARE YOU PUNISH THEM OFFICERS FOR THAT HOW DARE YOU. If I were you I would throw out all my mirrors. You are a disgrace to this country. Candelyn Marhyna Carpenter

tedb @ 12/27/2012 4:06 PM


Again, emotion and children being involved are overshadowing the issues here. I said nothing about depriving the affected officers of a paycheck or any other benefit. Ample sick leave and administrative time off is available in most departments to handle temporary needs with a full paycheck. If they are unable to return to work because of the trauma, they can apply for medical retirement and have a permanent paycheck. Unfortunately, it is due to overly emotional people like you with clouded judgment that many of us have to spell out, very slowly, what we are trying to say. Read my writings above again, this time without your agenda and "How dare you's" and you might discern my intent. I am saying that YES, this was a terrible experience and I pity them for having to undergo it, but there are still members of the public they serve who are alive and also need their assistance, so they have to get on with the job. And why would you dare me to make them go without a paycheck? That just doesn't make sense. I understand that you are emotional right now, but I can't be sure if you are an "American" as you claim, because you seem to have great trouble with the English language and sentence structure.

RICHARD ISAACS @ 12/27/2012 4:54 PM


Charles @ 12/27/2012 6:17 PM

Insurance companies are so low they can walk under a rattlesnake wearing a 10 gallon hat! I'm a retired LEO after 33 1/2 years and I'm glad I never had to see a crime scene like that!

John @ 12/28/2012 1:17 AM

I agree with tedb.

[email protected] Iowa retired @ 12/28/2012 5:08 AM

There must be a certain amount of sucking it up in Law Enforcement. Having said that, when an LEO is exposed to such a horrific tragedy as in Newtown, help for these officers and other Emergency Responders, is needed and should be provided whether it is at the state or local government level, even if insurance companies are not willing to help. Get these people the help that is needed so they can get their lives back on track, (if that is possible after such a tragedy) and back on the job. There are too many people depending on us. My prayers to victims and families and to all those that had to respond to this tragedy.

Small Town COP @ 12/28/2012 6:12 AM

I agree with TedB, you are either a sheepdog or you aren't. If you aren't, find another line of work before you let somebody down at a time when it really matters.

DanB @ 12/28/2012 6:42 AM

To Ted B and Small Town COP: You are both out of your heads. Since something like Newtown has never happened in the US with children at school, you know not of which you speak! To Ted B: you need to retire again. To Small Town COP: I wonder if you will ever see anything to compare(hope not, for your sake). I also wonder if you are "overly proud" to be a cop since you find it necessary to put the word cop in all caps. I am due to retire in the next few months and, selfishly, I pray I do not see anything remotely close to that in the time I have left. I ache for the friends and relatives who lost someone at Newtown and I ache for all of the responders for having to see that.

PeteS @ 12/28/2012 8:54 AM

to DanB,

Did you forget about the columbine shooting and there was also an incident that killed over 30 children in the 1920's involving an angry person who bombed a school? So, to say that "something like Newtown has never happened in the us with children at school", is not accurate at all. I think you need to reread what Tedb wrote...

DanB @ 12/28/2012 1:01 PM

To PeteS: I sometimes question the types of officers we get now. It is more because some feel they are entitled rather than the fortitude to tough it out.

I did not know about the bombing, but Columbine was not 20 1st graders. It was a combination of 11 highschool students and a teacher. Horrifying still, but not to the same level as 20 six- and seven-year-old-children plus 7 adults.

As far as his service in Nam, my Dad served in WWII and my brother served in Nam. The first year I was eligible for the draft, my number was 311. They stopped the draft after that year.

Capt David-Ret LA County @ 12/31/2012 3:00 PM

Hey, Newtown could be Mayberry, where cops don't even see a black eye. I would question though, what do they do when a head on is involved with multiple deaths and bodies so mangled you can't identify them? Tough one to judge. How many cops claiming illness??

TC @ 1/30/2013 4:18 AM

Ted, Dan, Small Town, etc. This is not a new phenomenon. WWII it was shell shock, Vietnam it was "Battle Fatigue." There were more emotional/psychological casualties than physical ones. I find it interesting that Small Town refers to "sheepdog," apparently borrowing that term form Grossman's "Bulletproof Minds." However, he apparently didn't listen or absorb when Grossman speaks about PTSD and what kind of effects it can have on Soldiers or Policemen. More importantly, how it can be prevented. The "Suck it UP!" thinking I tend to agree with in most instances. I do believe we have some entitled little "effers" coming on this job. However, when one witnesses extreme carnage (like Newtown) that has been perpetrated by some sick eff, that will most likely stay with you unless you get ahead of it. Unfortunately, the type of thinking above will serve to keep those officers silent and never seek help because of the stigma. We are not machines, we are human beings. To think we can't be affected by this is ignorant, (Sorry to use the term, but I couldn't resist. I'm speaking of that line of thinking, not the individuals) The stressors that are induced by these things are a normal reaction to an abnormal event. I haven't been doing this as long as ted and others, but I've been around this ride for a couple of decades, 13 of which spent on SWAT. I've seen my share of nasty scenes. Some bother me, some don't. No rhyme or reason to it. However, I can't go to even a sudden death of a child (natural/non traumatic causes) and not be affected. Those always affect me negatively. I couldn't imagine seeing 20 butchered and wouldn't hazard a guess on how that would affect me. Try not to judge these brothers until you can grasp fully what they saw that day. Also, interesting article below...

PC @ 1/30/2013 7:52 AM

Before everyone starts calling the Town and their Insurance Company names they are both right. In CT they have statutes that cover everything. The Town and Insurance Co are just following the law. I have no doubt that the Officers, Teachers, Administrators and children who were involved in this incident will all suffer some form of mental anguish due to this event but the Towns and Insurance Co's are put in a tough spot. If they go of and beyond what the Workers' Comp has in the statutes for these individuals then they will set a president that will open the flood gates for all kinds of mental anguish claims throughout the state. From being a retired DS to now being a municipal Risk Manager I feel for both sides. Like everyone else involved in this incident they will need to use the many other resources that are available through non Workers Comp avenues to treat their conditions. I understand the emotions of most people but the facts are PO's asked to be PO's they were not forced to take the job. Even though the chances of this happening in your career are extremely slim you should expect it at some point. In most places PO's receive WC benefits that other workers do not get but unfortunately PTSD is not one of them. In this case the PO's, teachers and others involved are going to have to work through this together without the help of WC.

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