ORLANDO, Fla. – One of the first police officers to respond to the massacre of Pulse's nightclubs is losing his job just a few months before he is entitled to full pension benefits. He called on Florida lawmakers to do more to support the first responders suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
Eatonville City Council unanimously agreed on Tuesday night to pay Cpl. Omar Delgado has $ 1,200 in accumulated sick time when his work ends at the end of the year, the Orlando Sentinel reported.
Delgado was praised as a hero for saving the victim Angel Colon during the June 2016 shootout, which killed 49 people. He returned to patrol after that, but finally took a desk job. On Monday, he was told that work is about to end. Village officials will not say why, but Delgado said a doctor's finding that PTSD makes him unable to return to full service is a factor.
He is not the first officer in the horrendous shooting scene to fulfill this fate. The Orlando Police Department granted early retirement benefits in July to Officer Gerry Realin, 37, who was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and will receive approximately 80 percent of his salary of $ 70,000 per lifetime.
Eatonville, however, has financial problems. The oldest African-American city in the country, known as the home of author Zora Neale Hurston, has around 2,000 people and a small police department, where Delgado has worked for nine and a half years. Another six months and would become the pension system, able to collect 64 percent of his salary and benefits of $ 38,500 for life.
Instead, according to the newspaper, Delgado will receive 42 percent of his salary starting at age 55. Now he is 45 years old.
"It's a small town … Here is everyone's family, and I thought they were going to treat me like a family," said Delgado. "I did not think I was going to be treated this way."
Deputy Chief Joseph Jenkins said the department reached a confidential agreement with the officer. Mayor Eddie Cole cited privacy laws by refusing to explain the decision.
The mayor also questioned why the funds of the onePULSE Foundation, created to help the survivors and families of the victims, were not diverted to law enforcement agents and their families.
"This city, like me, cares about people," Cole said. "But some photos are bigger than we all know"
Delgado said that state legislators must do more to support the first responders who suffer from PTSD.
A bill requiring coverage for mental health treatment in workers' compensation for first responders with PTSD advanced on Tuesday in a committee of the Florida Senate in Tallahassee. It can be heard by the legislature in the session that begins on January 9. But similar proposals presented last year died before reaching the plenary for their vote.