Over the last week, I have heard from several citizens that are concerned about the well-being of Longview Police Officer Leigh Ann Snyder. As you may know, Officer Snyder was hit by an uninsured drunk driver while she was responding to a call one year ago. Let me say that I share in your concern and wish for her successful recovery.
You never want someone to be injured, whether on or off the job. Unfortunately, sometimes terrible accidents occur. When those accidents occur, I believe it is important for an organization to have a safety net in place to care for employees that have been injured. I also believe it is important to have a consistently-applied policy to address situations when they arise. We have both.
When an employee is injured on the job, the City of Longview takes great steps to provide a safety net to care for the needs of the employee. The City of Longview's Workers Compensation coverage provides for the full medical costs associated with the accident and will continue to do so for the life of the employee. Our Worker's Compensation coverage also assists with related costs such as child care coverage or modifications to a home to allow for handicap access.
The City of Longview's coverage also gives injured employees a "Temporary Income Benefit" that provides the injured party with 70% of their gross pay, untaxed, for up to 2 years.
When the Temporary Income Benefit is no longer available, the City of Longview has a long-term disability policy that provides up to 60% of original income. This disability policy is at no cost to the employee. An injured employee also may access their retirement benefits, even if the employee was otherwise not yet eligible for retirement.
City of Longview policy states that employees are separated from employment if they are unable to fulfill their full job capacity for 12 months within a 24 month period. This policy is in line with or better than many cities across Texas. In fact, our research shows that many cities' policies range from 3 months to 12 months. Many of our employees, whether public safety or public works or any department, face risks in their job duties. The purpose of the policy is to provide a neutral, consistent basis for addressing cases when employees cannot work in their full capacity, regardless of the reason.
It is also very important to note that injured employees are eligible for rehire when they have been medically cleared for full duty. In the case of the Longview Police Department, they are always in need of qualified, experienced candidates.
I realize that these safety net benefits do not erase the original harm of an accident, but they do play an important role in caring for an injured employee and building a bridge as they seek to return to full employment. The City Council spent several years reviewing all aspects of employee pay and benefits to ensure that we are able to recruit and retain a quality workforce to serve the citizens of Longview. I have been impressed by the public compassion and concern for Ms. Snyder through fundraising efforts. I encourage residents to continue to keep her in your thoughts and prayers.
Mayor Jay Dean