Veterans, police officers fighting City of Naples for benefits they say they’re owed

Published: December 6, 2021 6:28 PM EST
Updated: December 7, 2021 5:25 AM EST

Veterans who say they have been sidelined from the police force are now battling for their own benefits, as two former officers suffered career-ending injuries.

Now, those officers say the City of Naples owes them money to survive in retirement. WINK News spoke to one of those officers about what that assistance would mean to him.

Brad Gallagher served in the armed forces and came home to serve the City of Naples as a police officer.

“It’s really disheartening that you give your service for the city, for the country, and then this is how you’re treated when you get injured in the line of duty at no fault of your own,” Gallagher said.

Since Gallagher was a veteran when he became a cop, he was eligible for the Military Buyback Program, which allowed him to put $27,000 of his own money into the city retirement fund. When he injured his knee, however, he could no longer perform his duties as a police officer.

“In the termination letter, they actually said they were letting me go because of medical reasons,” Gallagher said.

Now that Gallagher has a disability pension, he wants his $27,000 back.

The City of Naples would have to change its law to pay back pension funds to a veteran who is totally and permanently injured in the line of duty.

The Naples Police Officer Pension Board put forward a motion to change the policy on Monday.

“Finally, after 11 months of asking about military buyback situation, we have progressed to the point where an amendment will finally be drafted,” Gallagher said.

Naples City Councilman Ted Blankenship says he is in favor of this change.

“I do think that the others will agree with me that this is something we should consider,” Blankenship said. Next Monday, he plans to bring up this issue at the Naples City Council meeting.

Gallagher says he hopes that the entirety of Naples City Council follows Blankenship’s lead.