Report: Traumatized Newtown Officers Low on Sick Days

Newtown police deeply affected by the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary are quickly running out of paid time off.

According to an AP report, a small number of Newtown police officers have yet to return to work since the tragic Dec. 14 shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, traumatized by the senseless carnage they witnessed that day.

Unfortunately, this trauma is not covered by workers’ compensation and some officers have used up their personal days and “could soon be at risk of going without a paycheck,” AP's Michael Melia reports.

There are less than 15 officers “critically affected” by the shootings, according to police union attorney Eric Brown, and only a few have taken extended time off.

Area police officers have stepped up to help, volunteering to cover shifts and give Newtown officers some rest, though that was only through Christmas Day and doesn’t cover missed pay.

Newtown’s Volunteer Ambulance Corps (NVAC) members spoke with Patch a week after the incident about responding to such a horrific scene and the toll it has taken on the volunteers.

"Everyone goes on autopilot," NVAC Secretary-Treasurer Jordan Reed explained. "You're here to do a job and you have to focus on that. And that's exactly what people did, whether they were [at the station] and overwhelmed, or on scene and dealing with seeing some awful stuff and trying to help families. When you get back here and started to realize the scope of it, it started to hit."

Read the full story here.

Mike December 27, 2012 at 10:04 PM
Yes rosered this is the usa: thanks for pointing that out. And you are entitled to agree with swan that the police "allowed" this to happen if that is what u would like to believe. Being that this is the usa and we are all entitled to our opinions, let me state my opinion as clear as I can for you: swan is a whack job and if you agree that the police "allowed" this to happen, you are a whack job too.
Newtown mom December 27, 2012 at 10:15 PM
There has been an incredible amount of money that has been raised. I don't think its unreasonable for a traumatized first responder to get a few weeks off with pay from those funds. We are talking about a few thousand dollars from millions that have been raised. The police arriving on the scene prevented that kid from going on to the next classroom. I am a Newtown resident and I support helping all those who have suffered.
despicable December 27, 2012 at 10:23 PM
This is a despicable blog. I agree with AB fan. The first responders should get free counseling but not a paid vacation. They are trained for this sort of work. They are NOT the victims.
Mike December 27, 2012 at 10:29 PM
Anrgry protection: joined patch december 27th, rosered joined patch december 27th, swan joined patch december 27th, baloney joined patch december 27th. What's the next name you are going to come up with coward? Let's tell it like it is. You have too much time on your hands which I figured out with your first cowardly post hiding behind the internet. I don't know why I am wasting my energy BT is right. By the way to everyone other than this troll: I am from pennsylvania and my heart is broken for all of you good people in newtown.
Angela Tosti Flynn December 27, 2012 at 10:41 PM
Interesting that so many that have something to say never use a moniker instead of their real name.
Angela Tosti Flynn December 27, 2012 at 10:42 PM
I meant "use a moniker instead of their real name."
Matt Maron December 28, 2012 at 12:55 AM
Hey folks, B T is right. We have more important things to do now then let these "trolls" get to us. Yes, this is America, we are all entitled to our opinions, as absurd as they may be. We know in our hearts what hero's these Newtown police offices are. If they need extra funds from the Newtown budget, then please expend the money for as much time as these officers need. I can only imagine what they witnessed :(. Thank you Newtown police officers... Your fast response saved so many lives, as Lanza wanted more. You are HERO'S...... Your proud neighbor in New Fairfield ... Matt Maron
Silver December 28, 2012 at 04:32 AM
It appears as if free speech on Patch is only accorded to those who wish to distribute monies set aside for victims, to police officers in need of a paid vacation. Regardless, the donors gave to the victims of the Newtown massacre, not to the police who probably need grief counseling, but should not be allowed to access the victims fund.
yoda December 28, 2012 at 10:46 AM
Those men will never be the same, they are broken! Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is the development of characteristic symptoms that occur following direct or indirect exposure to a traumatic or terrifying event in which physical harm was threatened, witnessed, or actually experienced.
Mike December 28, 2012 at 11:21 AM
Silver, don't you think there's a big difference between having the opinion that the officers shouldn't get victims funds and stating that the officers "allowed" the shooting to happen? You are entitled to your opinion and free to express it and it is respected. If someone is going to use a crazy argument that police are responsible here to support their anti cop agenda then they are going to be called on it for what it is. Its fair to argue either way. I for one believe since there is overwhelming funds coming in, covering a few sick days for traumatized first responders isn't really that big of a deal. Perhaps we should start an individual petition to gather seperate funds. I have no doubt there will be additional overwhelming support for these men and women, don't you? Not sure why you think free speech is one sided here. Most are
Enough December 28, 2012 at 12:09 PM
The donors gave money to assist the victims NOT the cops. It doesn't matter what you think Mike. If the money is taken from the fund and given to the cops, the fund administrators will be charged with fraud. Are you a cop, Mike?
Mike December 28, 2012 at 12:18 PM
Not a cop, just someone who respects what all first responders do and understands what they went through and will go through for the rest of their lives being that I've seen somethings similar when I was in service. I don't know why you keep creating new ids to respond. Enough? How in one response to you claim your free speech is being violated then say it doesn't matter what I think? Apparently you can't read either: I said you are entitled to your opinion that cops shouldn't get victims funds. I even volunteered the idea that seperate funds be gathered for first responders. My point is, YOU initally stated police allowed this to happen. That's what I'm attacking.
onceuponanewtown December 28, 2012 at 01:03 PM
Just like our returning veterans, they will need love, support from family, friends and the community. They will need time and we need to stand behind them ~ but one thing I know for certain these heroes are strong men and women ~ not broken! Let's get rid of the hate & greed so that this never happens again! This has to begin in each of our hearts then needs to be paid forward.
Mike December 28, 2012 at 01:09 PM
You and your 10 different personalities, I mean ID's are right - I am out of control. You win, congratulations, I have to go to work now.
onceuponanewtown December 28, 2012 at 01:36 PM
This whole community will need to mend and this includes volunteers and first responders. I am forever grateful to all the men and women that kept us safe and kept order in our town the days following the SHSchool tragedy. They directly dealt with the chaos and protected the families (and community) from further harm. I have full confidence in the powers to be to know and do what is right so that our first responders can get back on their feet and continue to do what they do best - WE NEED THEM. There is still plenty that we as a community can still do to assist. We were the benefactors of an outpouring of love and support from our nation and the world. They gave with pure hearts to help. Let's show them that we can receive in the same way! Any help and support given to our first responders IS helping the victims and our community!
B T December 28, 2012 at 01:40 PM
Lots of hatred here, ignore it Newtown. All our officers need to know is that their town is with them. We are united. We will do everything in our power to support you, we are all one community. There isn't one Newtown resident who hasn't imagined at least once (and more likely many, many times), the horror those first responders must have lived through on that day. Seeing and coping with death is a reality for those in the police/EMS/fire profession. So I can at least comprehend the opinion noted that since they are trained for seeing death, why should they be compensated for lost time. But strong opinions in opposition to supporting our first responders who ran into that building, who saw 20 children with multiple gunshot wounds dead (and dying), is very telling to the character of those individuals. Some comments here reflect a profound lack of empathy for one's fellow man and an utter disconnect from the situation "on the ground." These statements speak for themselves, the need not be responded to individually. The battle over fear, anger, and hatred will be won with love and compassion. Residents: do something tangible to show your support and share your story. You all have a voice 100x louder than anyone sending out hate.
Da Face! December 28, 2012 at 01:55 PM
2 lines of thought.....1 the funds donated are for the actual victims....if this is true, then the toys and other goods donated should only go to the 26. Or 2. The funds donated are for the town, and if that is true, then the kids that went to other schools (who already have received toys, and other things) should not have gotten anything....the volunteers at the healing center should be limiting their time as volunteers to only the 26 and their families...(which is NOT happening, they consider ALL Newtownians to be victims, and help all of us.) If the popular belief is #1, then there should be no funding from donations. If the popular belief is #2, then funds could be used for the cops. My belief...the cops were there for us...all 45 of them were there...on AND off-duty, and if some need an extra week or two off, then we should support them...from the donations offered to "Newtown" by our nation-wide community of friends and supporters. This relief should, and NEEDS to be limited in duration. Any cop receiving this help that retires from PTSD should be required to pay this money back to this fund, in order to prevent this assistance from being depleted...it would be for the purpose of getting BACK to work...and if the end result is retirement from PTSD, then that is a State provided benefit. We do not need mentally 'unbalanced' cops, and they should not be forced back to work by their need for a paycheck.
Da Face! December 28, 2012 at 01:56 PM
(Part 2)We should have learned that they were ALL there for us on that horrific day...and we should support them as they supported us. I would also hope that only those who truly need the help would take it. PTSD is real folks. Flashbacks are real too. We owe it to the cops. We owe it to ourselves to have capable Police for any future emergency too.
Gary Jeanfaivre (Editor) December 28, 2012 at 02:24 PM
Hey all, just a quick note. I appreciate everyone's thoughts and opinions on this topic. I have, however, deleted several comments for violating the Patch Terms of Use. Comments that adhere to those terms are welcome; those that are not will be deleted. Now, back to the subject at hand: according to the AP report, the union has contacted state legislators and the governor's office in hopes of modifying state law to help officers like those in Newtown. Would you support such a change?
Da Face! December 28, 2012 at 04:38 PM
I would generally be against such legislation. I feel that PTSD retirement is already covered, and we are talking about several days off. To create NEW legislation to cover PTSD may invite abuse of the system. Can you imagine every cop responding to a seizure, or a cut that bleeds, complaining of PTSD in order to get a few days off? What about a fatal car accident? How many must be killed to qualify? What about all of the other first-responders (fire, and ambulance) and clean-up crews? I am pro-cop, but I think such a law just might be inviting a whole host of problems....and we already have ( as Newtowners ) the ability to solve this problem. Again, we NEED to support our cops. (I do NOT wish to exclude our fire and ambulance people, but I would think that the numbers of their personnel exposed in THIS particular incident would have been limited due to the need to preserve the crime scene.)
Newtown mom December 28, 2012 at 04:47 PM
What makes you think monies that have come into Newtown are for the victims only? The funds are for many things...victims families, first responders, surviving students and staff at Sandy Hook, creation of a memorial, reconstruction of Sandy Hook School, support of community mental health agencies, etc... I know this to be a fact as I answered phones for one of Newtown's agencies the day after the tragedy and spoke to donors from all over the country.
Marcus Poulin December 28, 2012 at 05:37 PM
PTSD changes the plasticity, morphology, and neurochemical structure of the human brain.
Joanne Brunetti December 28, 2012 at 06:19 PM
What happened to Worker's Comp??? On the job injury??? This is ridiculous no matter how you look at it. Help these men! They certainly go above and beyond every single day to help us. It should not even be an issue. They should be Worker's Comp with a fund to suplement the Comp. God Bless the men and women in our town who protect us every single day!
Tony December 28, 2012 at 07:08 PM
This is a no brainer. NO ONE is trained to respond to what they witnessed. The town received millions that we are aware of. Use some of it to help them. I have no faith that our elected officials will do the right thing. This will become a mess very soon and Newtown will once again show it true colors.
Mike December 28, 2012 at 07:33 PM
Good to see the support for these first responders. I think most people with common sense know this event is different than anything these men and women have ever delt with or ever imagined. I am not local but would be the first to donate if someone there set up a specific fund for these good people.
Allan Linden December 28, 2012 at 08:52 PM
If you checked the web page for Sandy Hook School Support Fund (c/o Newtown Savings Bank) - you would see that it states "This fund will be able to provide support services to the Newtown/Sandy Hook community. A local board of Newtown community leaders is being convened to determine how the fund is most needed and will be best utilized". If Newtown Police, who walked into an unimaginable situation, need 'some' assistance from this ever-growing fund of several millions of dollars, why not?
Da Face! December 28, 2012 at 09:07 PM
Actually, I WOULD call the first responders 'Victims'. Imagine the shock and horror...and they have a job to do....they cannot deal with their feelings for quite a while.
Wicker December 28, 2012 at 09:10 PM
The police are paid and trained to do a job. Period. Attempting to tap in to a non-profit fund meant to comfort victims is bad manners. This blog reminds me of the story in the Hartford Courant about the state trooper who stole money and jewelry from a dying victim at an accident science. Same level of tacky, covetous, slimy behavior.
lime December 28, 2012 at 09:26 PM
My guess is that 3/4 of the posts on this blog originated from "Mike" and his many aliases. What a farce.
Angela Tosti Flynn December 28, 2012 at 11:26 PM
Is there any wonder why we as a society have so many problems? We need to be more compassionate and understanding as human beings. Unless you have walked in their shoes, you don't know what they are feeling.


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