Trending Topics

Conn. city at odds over shot officer’s disability pension

The city has been in discussions with the family about moving the officer over to a disability pension in recent weeks

Pat Tomlinson
The Hour, Norwalk, Conn.

NORWALK, Conn. — The city and Norwalk Officer Phillip Roselle, who was shot in a September 2017 training accident, are at odds once again — this time over the terms of a disability pension.

The city has been in discussions with the family about moving Roselle over to a disability pension in recent weeks.

Roselle, the family says, is reluctant to retire, but the decision may soon be out of his hands.

Under the department’s collective bargaining agreement, the city has the right to retire an injured officer like Roselle after 18 months of receiving workers’ compensation. And, with Roselle’s workers’ compensation nearing the end, it seemed the move to the disability pension was going to be finalized at March’s Police Commission meeting.

Monday was the last day for Roselle to willingly move himself to a disability pension, but at the last moment the family decided against the move. Moments before an executive session between the commission and the family was scheduled, the meeting was called off.

Lt. Dave O’Connor, the president of the police union, said he would not comment on the ongoing discussions. Debbie Roselle, on the other hand, said the city was trying to strong-arm her husband into retirement.

“This is how is my husband is going to get sent off after 31 years of service? The city is going to force him in to retirement while he’s off getting dialysis somewhere else because of a gunshot that he got on the job? That’s absolutely devastating,” Debbie Roselle, said.

Between a disability pension and workers’ compensation payments, Roselle would receive the entirety of his base salary. When workers’ compensation runs out, though, his pension would only cover up to 75 percent of his salary, according to Director of Personnel and Labor Relations Ray Burney.

“These disability pension payments will continue for the remainder of Officer Roselle’s life, and if he predeceases Mrs. Roselle, she will continue to receive the same payment for the remainder of her life,” Burney said in email to the family.

Before retiring, Roselle said he wants to pursue all possible alternatives.

One of those alternatives, Roselle said, is the passage of state legislation that would allow any municipality to pay public safety employees forced into retirement by such injuries the difference between their disability retirement pay and the regular rate of pay prior to their retirement — something his wife has been fighting for with the aide of the Massachusetts-based Violently Injured Police Officers Organization.

Roselle has about 50-plus sick and vacation days left, according to his family, and he is considering using them in the hopes that the bill can pass before his compensation time runs out.

Debbie Roselle said she believes the bill will pass the state Legislature, but she fears it may not be in time to make a difference for her husband.

“We’ve put in all this hard work, and, unfortunately, I’m scared Phil will not be able to reap any of these benefits,” she said.


©2019 The Hour (Norwalk, Conn.)