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Published Friday, November 08, 2013

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Milwaukee top cop says some officers abuse system

The Associated Press - MILWAUKEE

Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn is calling for fixes to a disability system that he says some officers have been abusing with frivolous claims of emotional stress.

Flynn on Thursday said the department's duty-disability system can provide legitimate help, but some officers suspected of misconduct have been misusing it, some even citing the department's investigation itself as the cause for their stress, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported ( http://bit.ly/17IvQsh).

"These rogues that go in there and say, `Oh, I feel so much stress because I am under investigation for wrongdoing.' They're dishonoring all of their colleagues," Flynn said.

Those who receive aid are ending up with a tax-free retirement that pays them the equivalent of their full pay, the newspaper reported. Flynn called the procedures "absurd" and said those officers are trying to avoid accountability.

When asked whether a criminal investigation could be launched regarding any disability cases, Flynn said the department was "alert to our responsibilities" and would respond as necessary.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett sent a letter Thursday to leaders of police unions asking them to publicly denounce this "scam" and assist in making appropriate changes to protect the city's pension fund from illegitimate claims.

A message left with Mike Crivello, the president of the Milwaukee Police Association, was not immediately returned Friday.

Since 2006, at least nine officers and supervisors have filed for or received duty disability during or after a disciplinary investigation, according to city records. The city has paid at least $948,000 to five of those former officers, according to the Employees Retirement System.

Flynn said one way to improve the system would to be to have the pension office check with the police department every time an officer files a duty-disability application. If the officer is under investigation, the application could be put on hold until the officer is cleared, he said.

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Information from: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, http://www.jsonline.com

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