Waco, TX - Waco Police Officer Nicki Stone is fighting for her life and the city of Waco refuses to change its policies to help her, according to The Waco Tribune.
Officer Stone is fighting breast cancer, and needs more sick time before going back to work. She got the diagnosis in November, 2016. The mother of two children, a 12-year-old son, and a four-year-old daughter, had a double mastectomy surgery in February, 2017.
She started chemotherapy in April, and will most likely have radiation treatments after that. If all goes well, she may be able to return to work in mid-August. The three-year veteran, who is now assigned as a detective, has used up the 480 hours that the Family and Medical Leave Act provides. The law allows her to draw 75% of her pay. She is also on short-term disability.
Now, other Waco police officers want to help Officer Stone by giving her some of the sick time hours that they've accrued. But the city has said no to her case and also to another Waco police detective who has missed work because his seven-year-old daughter has cancer. The Waco police detective declined an interview with The Waco Tribune.
Waco City Manager Dale Fisseler said that the city did offer officers additional sick time, but only after they have used all of the vacation and other time that they've accrued. He met with Waco Police Chief Ryan Holt about the issue of other officers donating sick time. Chief Holt has refused to discuss the meeting, and has instructed the WPD's public information officer Sergeant Patrick Swanton to retract the statement that he had issued.
Officer Stone said, "If I had been in that meeting, my question would have been, ‘Why not? We are risking our lives to save others on the street. I am literally fighting for my life now..." She also said "...if someone wants to help save my life, what is there to question? But the city won’t allow other officers to help me. That makes no sense. It’s the city saying, ‘Don’t do the right thing'...".
Other officers have volunteered for more than a month to work Officer Stone's 3:00 p.m. - 11:00 p.m. shift. This means that they would be pulling double shifts but it would allow Officer Stone to keep getting paid her salary for that amount of time. This wasn't allowed; it is different trying to work a detective's shift instead of a patrol officer's due to the former's caseload.
Ken Reeves, Waco Police Association President, said that a lot of officers came forward to donate time to both Officer Stone and the detective. He said that officers can save their sick time hours, but the city will only pay for 720 hours when that officer retires. He also said that if the city allows an officer to give 40 hours of sick time to another officer, then the 'city views that as an expenditure that it otherwise wouldn't have to pay'.
He said, "We would just like to see the city look at their employees in terms other than just dollars and cents and more than just money. We would like to see them take care of our brothers and sisters...It is their money, and they should be able to use that money in any way they want to, especially if it is to help someone sick or dying. The city’s best commodity is its employees, and taking care of them ought to be paramount.”
In response, City Manager Fisseler said that it's not a good idea to change the policy for 'a lot of reasons', "that if you get the city to pay for more by donating it to others, it is going to have a negative impact on the city’s costs.”
He did approve a plan for employees to earn extra sick, but they must first have used all of their other time, which includes sick days, comp time, vacation days, and holidays.
Reeves said that it was unrealistic to work as a police officer, as stressful as the job is, without being able to take a vacation or a few days off.