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Monday, May 2, 2016

Injured officers granted leave of absence by pension board

Friday, February 24, 2006

Considering the bureaucratic quagmire Dave Archer and Chris Blila have been forced to wade through since being injured in the line of duty last month, the hearing that settled the issue was ironically speedy and efficient.

The two Brazil police officers appeared before the Brazil Police Pension Board Thursday to apply for the six-month leave of absence the city offers its disabled employees. According to Chief Mark Loudermilk, the board moved for and unanimously approved the requests in about 10 minutes.

"It was pretty painless," he said.

The circumstances Archer and Blila have had to endure are just the opposite. Both sustained injuries to their hands and arms when a routine Jan. 13 domestic disturbance call at the Brazil home of Larry Douglas Winn turned violent.

Then they learned the police department's workman's compensation policy would cover only their medical expenses, a realization that surprised even Loudermilk.

Because police and fire workers' salaries are insured by the Public Employee Retirement Fund (PERF)-- with a plan that would have paid the officers about 55 percent of their pay and expended all their vacation days-- Archer and Blila weren't eligible for the 67 percent workman's compensation salary available to other city employees.

The leave of absence package the officers were granted will provide 50 percent of their pay for up to six months, though neither officer's injuries are expected to keep them out of service that long.

An application for salary compensation through PERF requires 30 to 60 days to process, Loudermilk said. The city benefits, on the other hand, are immediately available.

For Blila, whose sick days have nearly been exhausted during his absence, the leave-of-absence benefits will begin immediately. Archer has chosen to ride out the remainder of his sick days before receiving the benefits.

"In about two months, when his sick days are up, he'll go to the 50 percent pay," Loudermilk said.

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