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Terminally Ill Police Officer Will Keep His Job

Terminally Ill Police Officer Will Keep His Job

East Valley Tribune via YellowBrix

January 21, 2010

MESA, AZ – A Mesa police officer diagnosed with a terminal illness will get to remain on the job.

Officer Mark Kelly, 30, said he was told by assistant police Chief John Meza last week that city officials told him Kelly can no longer work for the Mesa Police Department because of his medical condition. Kelly was told by city officials on Wednesday he will keep his job, said Bryan Soller, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Mesa Lodge No. 9, and Mesa City Manager Chris Brady.

In April, Kelly was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, a terminal neurological disorder that destroys the nerve connections between muscles and the brain. He was given two to five years to live.

The Mesa Police Association and the Fraternal Order of Police Mesa Lodge No. 9, the city’s two police unions, reached a resolution for Kelly with the city on Wednesday that allows him to remain on the job and keep his benefits, Soller said.

“I am trying to protect my family financially in the event of my death,” Kelly said. “The longer I am on the job, the more my public safety retirement pension will be. There needs to be some kind of policy in place when officers come down with certain types of conditions or illnesses.”

The two police unions, which usually disagree on issues, worked together for Kelly to remain on the job, Soller said.

“Today’s a good day,” Soller said of the city’s decision to work something out that allows Kelly to remain on the job as long as he’s physically capable. “We came up with a plan. It’s been in the works since October. We’re very pleased with the city’s decision to keep him on the job and help his family out.”

Kelly, 30, who has been an officer for five years, said he was told last week he no longer could work for the department and that he would have to take an early retirement.

Kelly said he was faced with the thought of having to ride out his remaining 275 hours of vacation and personal comp time before relying on hours of vacation and medical leave donated to him by his colleagues.

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