After sustaining a broken leg and shattered wrist from a motorcycle accident, Corporal D.J. Long received a letter June 11 stating that he would no longer be receiving workers’ compensation.
Long, who was named as the Ardmore Police Department’s Officer of the Year in 2018, was escorting a poker run on May 19 when the accident occurred.
“He was doing an approved function and he was on a city motorcycle, he was in uniform and all of these things that you would normally expect somebody, if an accident should happen, be taken care of,” said FOP Lodge 108 President Matt Miller, who said his comments in this article do not reflect any opinions other than his own.
Miller said the union has a labor agreement with the City of Ardmore that requires any officer who is injured while on duty to be paid for at least six months past the time of his or her injury.
“They are — and by ‘they’ I mean the city and some sort of third party adviser that they have — they are saying that D.J. was outside the scope of his duty, which is just simply not true,” Miller said.
City Manager J.D. Spohn and Assistant City Manager Kevin Boatright declined to comment on the situation due to confidentiality reasons. Boatright said a third party is handling the situation and the city’s attorney, Margaret Love, also declined to comment on the situation.
Miller said the union has filed a grievance against the city and will be settling the dispute through arbitration. The length of the process depends on the circumstances of the case, but can sometimes take up to a year to settle.
Time is running out for Long, who is still in need of another surgery, Miller said. “All of that may come out in his favor, but a year from now. It’s really tough. He is really in a bad spot right now,” he said.
The day of the accident, Miller said physicians essentially had to “put (Long’s) leg back together” by reattaching the ligaments and tendons. After Long finishes healing from his first visit to the hospital, he will have to make another trip to have knee replacement surgery.
Some of Long’s coworkers were able to donate their vacation time to him in order to increase the amount of time that he would receive a paycheck while out of office and Long was receiving workers’ compensation while in the hospital, Miller said.
The union is also exploring options as far as putting fundraisers together. But by August 12, Long will likely be going without a paycheck, Miller said.
“If he goes without a paycheck, I mean he’s got a mortgage, he’s got a car payment, he’s got all the bills that a normal person would normally have and now they’re compounded with medical bills that he is going to have to deal with himself and some of those consequences are going to be disastrous,” Miller said.
Corporal Long confirmed the situation Friday, July 19, stating that it is unfortunate that it had to come to this.
“It’s something that we never would’ve expected going into it,” Miller said. “For the most part, the city has been great as far as standing by its officers and the people who protect them. But at this point, it is getting kind of scary.”