According to Easthampton city officials, a city police officer might be retiring from the Easthampton Police Department against his will. An injury that he sustained while on duty has prevented him from returning to work for over two years. Officer Anthony Covalli, 30, who has been with the Easthampton Police Department since 2004, broke his leg in November of 2009, when he jumped over a chain link fence while he was pursuing a suspect.
Although his expected date to return to work was in May 2010, Personnel Director Raisa Riggott confirmed that he remains out on paid leave. She said "It's tough because he really wants to get back to work, but he's had so many complications with his injury." According to Riggott, Police Chief Bruce McMahon is attempting to involuntarily retire Covalli because his paid leave is "costing the city money."
Massachusetts State Law mandates that police officers or firefighters who are injured while on duty must receive their full, untaxed wages while they are "incapacitated." Riggott confirmed that Covalli has been receiving his regular salary since his accident in 2009 and that the law does not currently state any limit on the length of time the officer is allowed to be on paid leave. The base annual salary for Covalli's position is $49,587; however, he may be receiving additional pay depending on his level of education or training.
A panel of doctors is scheduled to examine Covalli to determine whether or not he should retire due to the injury. Tina Schneider, administrator for the Easthampton Retirement Department, said that if the Retirement Board decides to retire Covalli, he will receive the same retirement package as any other officer who has had to retire because of an accidental disability.
The city´s Retirement Board accepted this request from Police Chief Bruce McMahon to begin involuntary retirement proceedings for Covalli and the department has commenced the paperwork that will be submitted to the state's Public Employee Retirement Administration Commission to start the involuntary retirement process. According to the retirement administration commission's guidelines, Covalli has the option to appeal the Retirement Board's decision in district court within 30 days.
Covalli grew up in and is still a resident of Easthampton. He became a full-time police officer when he was 23 years old after serving in Iraq as a member of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves for six months in 2006.
If you or your loved one has been injured in the workplace or are facing complications over your workers´ compensation, it is advised that you contact an experienced Massachusetts workers' compensation lawyer.
Easthampton moves to force retirement of injured police officer
, www.gazettenet.com, January 14, 2012
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