A Newtown police officer who responded to the 12/14 shooting incident at Sandy Hook School, and who has been off work since then due to subsequent post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), said that the town has not yet contacted him to negotiate the terms of his expected departure from the police department.
Officer Thomas Bean, 38, who has been a police officer for the past 13 years, said December 5 that he has received no word on the matter from the town.
Officer Bean has said that the intensity of the 12/14 incident had such an emotional effect on him that he no longer would be able to function as a police officer.
In November, Officer Bean and the Newtown Police Union publicized the officer’s situation in seeking to have the town negotiate with the labor union on the officer’s departure. Officer Bean currently is receiving half-pay from the town while on long-term disability.
Town officials have had nothing to say on the topic, declining comment and terming the issue a personnel matter.
In an August 9 letter to Officer Bean, Police Chief Michael Kehoe wrote, in part, that under the terms of the police department’s rules and regulations, termination of Officer Bean’s employment is warranted and would be recommended to the Police Commission.
The job termination plan stems from the town’s receipt of a May 29 letter from Officer Bean’s physician that stated that he is “permanently and completed disabled from [the] duties of a police officer,” Chief Kehoe wrote.
The chief noted that Officer Bean had attended a July 16 session at which he was represented by the police union’s lawyer and a by union officer. At that time, Officer Bean stated that he did not anticipate any change in his medical status or work status, according to Chief Kehoe.
In the letter, the police chief added that Officer Bean had failed to respond to several job severance options proposed by the town: retirement, disability retirement, or resignation.
The Newtown Police Union contends that under the terms of its labor contract with the town, if an officer finds himself in a situation such as Officer Bean’s, the person is eligible to receive 50 percent of his pay until their normal retirement date. In Officer Bean’s case, such retirement would come in November 2025.
The town’s insurance coverage, however, does not provide for such an extended period of a police officer receiving half pay, only allowing such payment to run for two years, according to Newtown Police Union President Scott Ruszczyk.
Attorney Eric Brown, who represents the police union, has said that the town is trying to “weasel out” of its financial obligations by putting strong pressure on Officer Bean.
The lawyer has estimated that half-pay for Officer Bean across the next 12 years would amount to about $400,000 and the fringe benefits costs to the town would be about $300,000, for a total cost of about $700,000.
An area woman, Aune Mitchell, has created website designed to serve as fundraiser for Officer Bean and his family. The fundraising goal is $750,000.
As of December 7, the fund drive had raised $195 through five donations.
On that website, Ms Mitchell writes: “Newtown Police Officer Thomas Bean was a first responder to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. Following the tragedy, he was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, and was placed on long-term disability. He now may be fired, as Newtown can only afford to pay two years of long-term disability,” she writes.
“Please support Thomas Bean and his family by donating. He is a husband, a father, and a hero — Let’s give him the respect he deserves,” she adds.
The web address for the fundraiser is www.gofundme.com/thomasbean.
Also, at least two Internet petitions have been organized by those supporting Officer Bean. As of December 7, one of those petitions had attracting 6,078 electronic signatures.
That petition is located at www.causes.com.
A second petition had received 1,335 electronic signatures by December 7. That petition can be viewed clicking HERE.
Due to a technical error, an earlier posted version contained incorrect authorship information.