On Monday, leaders for the City of Naples met to discuss payback for veteran officers who could no longer fulfill their duties after injury. These veterans feel they were sidelined by the police force and want their retirement money back.
Two of these veterans say the City of Naples owes them thousands of dollars. So, City council members met to see what they could do for these two and other officers in similar positions.
Councilmembers were in that meeting for most of the day on Monday. However, that meeting is closed to the public.
WINK News spoke to one of the retired officers fighting the City of Naples to get the money he says he’s owed. He thinks he knows why city leaders decide to keep this meeting closed. Brad Gallagher is a retired Naples Police officer. “This shouldn’t even be a discussion. You know, anybody looking at this situation can say this is the right thing to do to return the money in this situation. It’s almost a theft at this point,” Gallagher said.
“I’m just hoping to see that city council is really going to stand up for what the city of Naples is supposed to be,” he said.
Brad Gallagher got a termination letter from the City of Naples in January. He was let go for injuring his knee while chasing a suspect. Ever since then, he’s been fighting the city to get his money back.
“I mean, one of the city’s mottos is ‘ethics above all else,’ and I don’t know how you could be ethics above all else if they’re not willing to do the right thing,” said Gallagher.
Before he was a police officer, Gallagher was a veteran. So, through the Military Buyback Program, he put $27,000 into the city’s retirement fund. Napel City law does not allow leaders to pay back pension funds to a veteran that has been totally injured in the line of duty.
So, Gallagher came to a Naples City Council meeting, and the city’s Police Pension Board made a motion to change that law. “I was a little bit hopeful that something was finally getting done,” Gallagher said.
Before the meeting, Naples City Councilman Ted Blankenship said he thinks this change is something the council should take into consideration. “I do think that the others will agree with me that this is something we should consider,” said Blankenship.
“They said that we were trailblazers in this route, and I really hope that this is solved for all future first responders and veterans because nobody should have to go through this. Nobody,” said Gallagher.
A spokeswoman for the City of Naples told WINK News that she could not divulge what happened during the meeting.