Wounded APD officer may run out of injured leave time

Created: 12/27/2013 6:13 PM
By: Erica Zucco, KOB Eyewitness News 4

Albuquerque Police Department officer Daniel Morales was shot in the leg in October’s attack on officers. He’s been out of work on injured leave time. If that time runs out, other officers say they’ll donate their vacation time to him. But the Albuquerque Police Officers Association says the amount of time he'll spend off isn't their only concern.

APD Officer Daniel Morales and Bernalillo County Deputy Robin Hopkins were among four officers hit in a shooting rampage this year. Deputy Hopkins faced losing her retirement and health benefits because of how much time she had to take off work. County commissioners made an exception for her.

Officer Daniel Morales, shot in the leg, will also be out of work for months. While he’s out, he won’t be getting any money into his retirement account and eventually could run out of leave time. The APOA hopes if it comes down to it, the city, county or state will step up for him too.

“It shouldn't matter the patch that's on your shoulder or their title in law enforcement. They're both officers, they both serve the community and they were both injured in the same incident,” APOA president Stephanie Lopez said.

The City of Albuquerque does have a plan in place if his time runs out. He could petition for more and receive an extension.

But Hopkins and Morales aren’t alone. The union says statewide workman’s compensation policies can put officers in a tough spot.

First, when they go on injury leave time, money stops going into their retirement account.

Second, six months of leave time isn’t enough for some recoveries.

Third, officers are only making two thirds of what they’d usually make.

“We're gonna take care of our officers and do everything we can,” Lopez said. “We want to make sure that that happens because like I said, we've had officers shot in the line of duty in the past and once the headlines are gone, nothing seems to happen.”

There are meetings planned between law enforcement unions, city councilors and state officials to determine whether these issues need to be addressed and, if so, if it should be done at the state or local levels.

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