Bill named after Conn. LEO forced into retirement heads to governor's desk
A bill allowing municipalities to pay public safety employees forced into retirement by injury is heading to the governor's desk
The Hour, Norwalk, Conn.
NORWALK, Conn. — Former Norwalk police officer Phil Roselle has dealt with a host of issues, both mental and physical, since he was shot by a fellow officer during a training session at a gun range in September 2017.
He’s experienced blood clots and night terrors, depression and permanent nerve damage in his right hand. His kidneys are failing him. Worst of all, he said, is the overwhelming feeling of helplessness.
“I wouldn’t wish this upon any other officer, to go through what I’ve been through. It’s just really hard,” he said.
In April, he was forced to retire from the police force — a profession he dreamed of since he was a teen. But on Wednesday, he and his family heard the first bit of good news they’ve gotten in a while.
A bill allowing municipalities to pay public safety employees forced into retirement by injury the difference between their retirement pay and the regular rate of pay prior to retirement is heading to Gov. Ned Lamont’s desk after it was approved by the state House of Representatives on the last day of the legislative session. The bill is expected to be signed into law next week.
Under the current collective bargaining agreement, public safety employees in Connecticut can only receive up to 75 percent of their pay from worker’s compensation when forced into retirement by an injury.
Phil Roselle’s wife, Debbie, first began pushing for a means to close that pay gap in October 2018, when she learned of a law in Massachusetts that allowed municipalities to step in where worker’s compensation might fall short.
And after six months of impassioned pleas before the state legislature, her hard work has paid off.
“I feel like I’ve been able to give Phil justice, hope and dignity that he needed after everything he went through,” said Debbie Roselle, who initiated the push for the bill back in October. “This is something those in the line of duty should be entitled to, and I’m happy to have been able to do this for Phil and other officers like him.”
Now, the ball is in the city’s court.
When the bill was first proposed in January, Mayor Harry Rilling said he would consider enacting the measure in the event it passed.
But now, with the bill’s passage appearing imminent, Rilling’s tone grown a little more noncommittal.
“I will take a look at the bill and see who is eligible for these expanded benefits,” Rilling said in a statement Friday. “The city has worked hard to negotiate a fair retirement settlement for Officer Roselle and his family, the terms of which are confidential. I want to be clear that the City of Norwalk has been and continues to be committed to protecting those who keep us safe in our community. We must do what’s right to ensure our first responders are taken care of and protected.”
Roselle currently receives a monthly payment of $5,097.20 (75 percent of his previous wage), and will consider to do so for the rest of his life under his pension.
Under the proposed law, Norwalk’s Common Council could vote to supplement his pay with a two-thirds vote of its legislative body until he reaches age of 65. He is now 52.
Common Council chairman Tom Livingston said he wasn’t familiar with the bill, so he could not yet comment on it.
Despite no assurances from the city, Debbie Roselle remains confident that they will “do the right thing.” She said once the bill is officially signed into law, she plans on reaching out to the mayor to discuss a possible agreement.
“I followed through and did what I had to do, I just hope the city will do the same,” Debbie Roselle said.
©2019 The Hour (Norwalk, Conn.)