Wounded BCSO deputy won't lose health benefits

Created: 12/10/2013 10:16 PM
By: Caleb James, KOB Eyewitness News 4

There's a big development Tuesday for a deputy shot in the line of duty whose family is at risk of losing some important benefits.   

Bernalillo County Deputy Robin Hopkins was shot in October by a man as he fled deputies and APD officers during a violent chase and shootout.   

Hopkins' situation exposed a huge shortcoming: The county has no policy for paying workers on leave after an injury.  

After a commissioners meeting on Tuesday, there is resolution for Hopkins.    

Hopkins was shot in the line of duty two months ago, and she's still learning how to walk again.          

With no policy at the county level to say what sort of paid leave she should receive, all of a sudden, this one woman's story has county commissioners asking about all other county workers.    

"I do have the ability to do leave with pay back to the date of the incident," said county manager Tom Zdunek.   

It's a development that brings good news for Deputy Hopkins.    

But now attention turns to other county workers who may find themselves in a similar spot.

"Unfortunately, this is a one time event, if you will," continued Zdunek.   

It's a one time thing for Hopkins, said Zdunek, because the county has no policy dictating what happens when special circumstances take a county employee off the job.

"The county needs to consider what we do on a forward going basis," he said. 

Planning for the future -- should another tragedy strike -- is something important to Bernalillo County Deputies Union president Kyle Hartsock.

"I think a lot of people are learning a lot of things from this incident beyond the criminal act that happened that day," said Hartsock.

Hartsock says he's learned the county needs a blueprint on how to handle paid leave after an injury.    

Commission chairwoman Maggie Hart Stebbins called for county manager Zdunek to draw one up.

"I look forward to seeing what the county comes up with and I think it will be a positive solution that even other county or city entities can model after," said Hartsock.

Most folks who spoke on this issue Tuesday night expressed how quickly the county is moving toward solving this problem.

The issue was identified, and already county leaders are asking for a policy.

The first draft is expected at the next meeting in January.

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