BOSTON (CBS) – In 2010, a gun trafficking suspect shot Somerville police detective Mario Oliveira in the chest, stomach, and arm.
“I could feel the pain in my chest and stomach. I could feel the blood oozing out of my body,” Oliveira said.
A year later, Woburn police officer, Bob DeNapoli, was shot six times by a man fleeing a jewelry store hold up.
“I’m like, he’s just going to kill me. He’s got me. He’s got me, I’m going to die in this parking lot,” DeNapoli said.
Both men were forced to climb back from debilitating wounds. Their injuries were so severe that they were forced to retire.
What happened next, they say, was months of politicking and negotiating with their cities over their retirement benefits. Oliveira and DeNapoli say the financial uncertainty was difficult to bear while they were recovering.
“It was to a point where things were getting kind of heated. It wasn’t a pretty thing. It was terrible. It was awful,” DeNapoli said.
That is why the men are spearheading a bill that would streamline access to retirement benefits for severely injured first responders.
Under current state law, public employees who retire with accidental disability receive 72 percent of their base salary, a fraction of the amount police can make with details and overtime. Injured officers can petition their local city or town for more, a process which can take years.
Under the proposed bill, first responders who are permanently injured in an attack are eligible for 100 percent of their base pay for the rest of their lives.
The bill has the support of Massachusetts Police Chiefs like Chelsea’s Chief, Brian Kyes.
“It’s something where a medical panel would have to deem them to be unfit to perform their duties,” Kyes said.
Oliveira and DeNapoli say they are extremely grateful for what they got but they want to spare other officers the uncertainty.
“We don’t want these police officers to go through what we’ve gone through,” DeNapoli said.
In the last 75 years, only 52 injured officers have petitioned for and received 100 percent of their base salary.
Now, Oliveira and DeNapoli are using their experiences to educate police departments and chiefs on retirement benefits in policies in the unfortunate event that someone is severely hurt.
They formed the Violently Injured Police Officers Association. For more information visit VIPO911.org.