The Common Council of the City of Brazil unanimously approved to grant an additional 120 days of emergency sick leave for Brazil City Patrolman/K-9 Officer Kenny Hill Thursday evening.
Under the current personnel policy, an employee injured on the job must use all sick and vacation days before they can apply for compensation through insurance or the Public Employees' Retirement Fund (PERF).
"Kenny is currently having to do this and is nearly out of available days," Brazil City Police Chief Terry Harrison said. "We would like to set up a 'in the line of duty compensation' to keep this from happening in the future."
On Dec. 20, Hill was involved in a high-speed pursuit along State Road 42 to an area near County Road 400 East, when his vehicle hit a patch of ice, went off the road and struck a tree.
He sustained a compound fracture of the left leg and a fractured right hip socket in the pelvis area from the impact of the collision with a tree.
The Brazil City Police Department presented a proposal to the council which would allow an employee who is injured while in the line of duty to receive their full salary and benefits for up to one year while they are recovering.
A major downside to insurance or PERF compensation is an injured employee can only receive up to 60 percent of their regular salary while they are healing.
"Our proposal would give Kenny or any other member of emergency personnel ample time to heal without losing any pay," Harrison said. "Now if an injury would require more than a year, then we would take PERF into consideration."
The idea for this type of proposal was first brought up after then Sgt./current Captain Dave Archer and Patrolman Chris Blila were injured following an altercation when responding to a domestic dispute in January 2006.
"We wanted to address this issue before anyone else could get hurt," Archer said. "In these situations you worry about getting better then worry more about trying to pay your bills, and it shouldn't ever come to that."
The department looked into how other law enforcement agencies around the state handled similar situations before preparing the proposal and invited Terre Haute Police Chief John Plasse to the meeting to explain his department's policy.
"We first send them to a Workman's Comp doctor and treat the situation like any other on-duty injury," Plasse said. "They then have a cap of 720 hours time off until the doctor clears them. However, if the doctor feels the injury would be considered a disability, we then look into using PERF."
Laws prevent the city or an insurance company to make up the difference in PERF compensation to allow for a full salary to be given to an injured officer.
The entire council is excited to implement a policy, but have to work out the details and wording to prevent confusion and ensure they are working within legal statutes.
"In my mind, this is a no-brainer," Council Member Brad Deal said. "We want to make sure we take care of the people who put their lives on the line every day to protect us."
Each council member had their own idea on what they want in the policy, and granted the additional sick days to allow them time to get everything correct.
"This gives us time to get a statute together which would be relevant for all emergency personnel," City Attorney Bob Pell said.
Council Member Bill Lovett concurred with Pell.
"We don't want to do something which would hurt Kenny in the short or long run," he said. "We want to make sure we get all of it right."
The council will hold a special executive session, which is closed to the public, late next week to begin hashing out the details.
The council also held a work session earlier in the day to discuss the city's Personnel Policies Handbook.
Representatives from National Insurance Services, Carmel, attended the session to analyze the benefit provisions in the handbook, which was ratified in 2004.
"With the age of the handbook, there are a lot of things we need to go in and update," Pell said.
Many of the updates needed are to reword various sections for clarification and to specify which city entities a certain policy pertains to.
The biggest area in need of change is the section regarding employee insurance.
The city will need to update the amount the city contributes to a family plan and clarify the type of coverage the insurance plan has for an employee's dependents.
This was the first work session to discuss the handbook and others are planned for the future.
The next regular meeting of the Common Council of the City of Brazil is Tuesday, Feb. 12, at 7 p.m., in the Council Chambers of City Hall.