Created: 12/26/2013 5:33 PM
By: Erica Zucco, KOB Eyewitness News 4
The physical pain of getting hurt in the line of duty is just the beginning. It leads to time off work and in some cases, officers cannot afford to pay their bills and support their families. People are stepping up to help, though, and it may be just the beginning.
IHOP held a week-long fundraiser in all of its Albuquerque stores, attracting customers with the promise that 20 percent of sales would go to injured officers. In all, they collected $20,000 to split across seven people.
One of them was Espanola State Police Agent Joey Gallegos. He was shot in the abdomen by a suspect in October.
“We all know that when we put on our gun and our badge in the morning, that it’s a sacrifice we all are willing to take,” Gallegos said.
He’s been out of work since then and will be in intensive therapy for several more months. For him, people choosing to donate is touching.
“A lot of the time, time just moves on they forget about them, but for those of us and the families of officers that have to go through it, it's very nice to see the support, not only for us but for our family members as well,” Gallegos said.
It’s a common misconception that when officers are injured, all their bills are covered. While they do get help, it’s still a blow to their finances. For example, the Albuquerque Police Officers Association says APD officers only get 60 percent of their pay while off.
“They're huge and lengthy recovery times and it's unfortunate that here in the state of New Mexico we don't have a very good system in place for officers who are injured in the line of duty to this extent,” APOA president Stephanie Lopez said.
Until the city and state make changes, fund-raisers like this one fill the gaps for some families. While many appreciate it, most of them echoed a single sentiment – wanting to get healthy and back to their calling.
“I want to go back to work and continue doing what I'm doing because it's what I love to do,” Gallegos said.
IHOP says they plan to hold other fund-raisers like this one. Noticeably absent at the event was Officer Daniel Morales who was injured in the attack on officers in October. He was at a doctor’s appointment. He’s still trying to regain use of his leg.