Officer continues fight for benefits Board guidelines are questioned ANNAPOLIS/SOUTH COUNTY--Davidsonville * Edgewater * Shady Side * Deale

March 02, 1993|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,Staff Writer

An Annapolis police officer asked a Circuit Court judge yesterday to reverse the city's decision denying him disability benefits.

Officer Anthony Davis, a seven-year veteran, filed a petition asking Judge Lawrence H. Rushworth Jr. to direct the city Public Safety Disability Retirement Board to use the law in effect when he applied for disability in July 1991. The board instead used the law adopted a month later, which tightened up eligibility requirements.

The board voted against granting Officer Davis disability benefits Dec. 23.

Disability would entitle the officer to 66.6 percent of his salary for the rest of his life.

Officer Davis was injured in 1986 trying to subdue a suspect and again in 1990 when he fell while climbing a chain link fence pursuing another suspect.

The 29-year-old officer cannot use his right thumb, preventing him from firing his service weapon. He cannot meet state certification requirements for police officers established by the Maryland Police Training Commission, said Timothy Talbott, the officer's attorney.

Physicians who examined Officer Davis for the city said that he is unfit for duty as a police officer because he will probably never be able to fire a handgun again.

The city has transferred Mr. Davis, and he has worked as a police dispatcher and in the department property room.

"These are jobs that are civilian in nature and they are not police officer jobs," Mr. Talbott said.

But City Attorney Jonathon Hodgson said the injury doesn't keep Officer Davis from working in some other capacity.

The disability board, in its Dec. 23, 1992, ruling, acknowledged that Officer Davis' injuries were sustained in the line of duty. But it used as its basis for denial the revised law that says officers must be "wholly and permanently disabled" to be eligible for the disability, Mr. Hodgson said.

"The law was never intended to allow eligibility [for retirement] to someone who could still work, but just not fulfill part of their role as a police officer," he said.

Judge Rushworth said he would decide the issue in the next few days.

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