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  • Officer fired over heart attack

    DAVIE -- For 12 years, Mike Necolettos put his life on the line.

    As a Davie police officer promoted to sergeant six years ago, he arrested drunks, nabbed burglars, responded to violent accidents and twice ducked bullets.

    Now the married father of three sits home battling high blood pressure and feeling betrayed by the town he spent more than a decade serving. Necolettos, 37, accuses Davie of illegally firing him.

    A good cop by all accounts, Necolettos says he lost his job Jan. 9 because of a heart attack he had while on duty in May.

    "I was a cop all these years," Necolettos said last week from his home in Davie. "You give your all and then you're fired."

    Davie also fired Lt. Greg Mize the same day. Like Necolettos, Mize had been unable to return to work after suffering multiple heart attacks, said his attorney, Andrea Wolfson. The town sent both officers letters dated Jan. 3 terminating them because they could no longer perform their jobs and needed to be replaced.

    Both letters, signed by then-Human Resources Director Mark Alan, thank the officers for their service and cite "exemplary" personnel records.

    Mize, 47, had worked for the town 21 years.

    Town spokesman Braulio Rosa declined to comment, citing privacy laws.

    Florida law presumes police officers and firefighters with heart disease got it from on-the-job stress. The law requires cities and counties to pay workers' comp and retirement benefits to officers and firefighters with heart-related illnesses.

    The town violated that state law as well as workers' comp statutes when it fired Necolettos, said his attorney, Robert Winess, of West Palm Beach.

    "They fired him saying he could not perform his job," Winess said. "But the whole reason he can't is because of this work-related heart attack."

    When he became a police officer at 24, Necolettos said, his heart worked just fine. He can prove it: He passed a physical before he was hired.

    At the time of his heart attack on May 3, Necolettos was working the graveyard shift patrolling in his cruiser. Around midnight he had trouble breathing, called for help and pulled over. Fellow officers found him slumped behind the wheel.

    "It's horrible," Necolettos said of being fired. "It's the worst emotional problem you can imagine. It's not like I shot or killed or beat somebody. I went to work and did my job and had a heart attack."

    The town's treatment of Necolettos is unusual, said David Murrell, executive director of the Florida Police Benevolent Association, adding that most police officers in his situation are given time to apply for disability pensions rather than being fired and left to fend for themselves with no health insurance or workers' comp benefits.

    "Sounds like Davie is taking a hard line," he said. "Some agencies are more compassionate than others."

    Necolettos has filed a grievance with the town, claiming he was wrongfully terminated. His attorney predicts the matter will be settled in court.

    Necolettos, whose salary was $83,000, frets over how he'll support his family and what he'll do when his health insurance ends on Thursday. He can't afford $1,600 a month for COBRA and a decision on his disability pension is months away.

    In the meantime, the stress of losing his job has not exactly helped his blood pressure, he said. "It's been 180 over 120."

    Susannah Bryan can be reached at [email protected] sentinel.com or 954-385-7929.

    This is indeed a very touchy situation....and hopefully everything works out for both parties... HOWEVER,

    since when did Sergeants start making $83,000 a year. I cant imagine what the Lt. or Captain is making.

    I think I have finally figured out where the rest of my salary is.... In Florida

  • #2
    Could be figuring in OT; he would likely still get that as a sergeant.

    One of our sergeants made over $80K, with all things considered. I am not even top step and I made just over $70K, wih $26K being from OT. I averaged a 54 hour work week.
    Those who are successful at what they do don't give a rip about what others think about them.

    We don't rent pigs.

    Comment


    • #3
      Good luck to both officers. Thanks for your service! I hope everything works out for you.
      "Fast is fine, but accuracy is everything!"-Wyatt Earp

      "You never know when crazy will show up!"-Irishdep

      Comment


      • #4
        Before commenting, I would like to see a photograph or an accurate physical description of both officers.

        I thank those officers for their service no matter what, but if they can't do their job because they are physically out of shape, they aren't providing much service to the community.

        EDIT: Well according to http://www.worldpowerlifting.org/Results061904.pdf, Ofc. Michael Necolettos was in the 308lb weight class, with a registered weight of 280lbs in 2004. It is beyond a reasonable doubt the same person, because the news article states Necolettos is 37 years old, and the link I provide shows that in 2004, the Necolettos in the 308lb weightclass was 33.

        Obviously, it doesn't say how tall the guy is, but unless he is 7 feet tall, he is considered obese according to the Body Mass Index.
        Last edited by Contact; 01-31-2008, 11:58 PM.
        A true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.

        -GK Chesterton

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Contact View Post
          Before commenting, I would like to see a photograph or an accurate physical description of both officers.

          I thank those officers for their service no matter what, but if they can't do their job because they are physically out of shape, they aren't providing much service to the community.

          EDIT: Well according to http://www.worldpowerlifting.org/Results061904.pdf, Ofc. Michael Necolettos was in the 308lb weight class, with a registered weight of 280lbs in 2004. It is beyond a reasonable doubt the same person, because the news article states Necolettos is 37 years old, and the link I provide shows that in 2004, the Necolettos in the 308lb weightclass was 33.

          Obviously, it doesn't say how tall the guy is, but unless he is 7 feet tall, he is considered obese according to the Body Mass Index.
          I think the issue is that they were fired and lost workers comp and retirement benefits Florida law entitles them to.

          Comment


          • #6
            Here is a link to CNN with a video of their report
            http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/us/...ck.firing.wsvn
            My new word for the day is FOCUS, when someone irritates you tell them to FOCUS

            Comment


            • #7
              I don't know Necolettos, but Greg Mize I do. I'm pretty sure he was a K9 back when I worked with him (about 5-6 years ago) and he seemed to be in pretty good shape and was definately 10-8!

              Damn!

              EDIT to add the Chief's email address for anyone else who is in an email writing mood!

              Chief Patrick Lynn
              Last edited by madchiken; 02-01-2008, 04:20 AM.

              Comment


              • #8
                If police work weren't stressful enough, power lifting is also hard on the heart. That officer does not appear to be "obese". His height to weight ratio may classify him that but the guy is built like a bull! Good luck!
                "Fast is fine, but accuracy is everything!"-Wyatt Earp

                "You never know when crazy will show up!"-Irishdep

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by fireprowvfd View Post
                  This is indeed a very touchy situation....and hopefully everything works out for both parties... HOWEVER,

                  since when did Sergeants start making $83,000 a year. I cant imagine what the Lt. or Captain is making.

                  I think I have finally figured out where the rest of my salary is.... In Florida
                  That is on the low end for a sargeant in SoCal. SDSO sgt's top step is $92,272.94 w/ degree and adv post. It is all relative to where you live I guess.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    He does have a valid lawsuit. Florida laws aside, the Supreme Court has ruled that police officers have rights of possession when it comes to our jobs, and therefore the department is required to give us written notice in advance of a 'pre-disciplinary hearing' and fire us in person at the hearing. Firing him by a letter violates that.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      you're no good to anyone when you're going to drop dead on the job at the worst possible moment.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Cubfan View Post
                        I think the issue is that they were fired and lost workers comp and retirement benefits Florida law entitles them to.
                        If it turns out that the officer in question is 80lbs overweight...who created the loss?

                        His department?

                        I'm not saying the officer isn't due his compensation, I am speaking in general. Obviously he is a powerlifter from the link I've found, so he may not be overweight for his abilities.
                        A true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.

                        -GK Chesterton

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I think its shameful to fire them like that.
                          I thnk both their shifts and their eating habbits played parts. But to cut them and deniy health insurance and workers comp- B CORNS.

                          Lawsuit and lawyered up- they are getting some money.
                          ‘Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go.’
                          Oscar Wilde

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Actually, I don't see this as being that unusual. As liberal as we are towards peace officer benefits in California, the rules here are just about the same. If you are physically unable to perform the duties of your job, you are no longer entitled to it. Here in California you get a certain amount of paid time off if you have a work related injury like a heart attack (its usually called 4800 time or 4850 time) but once that runs out, you have to look to your pension.

                            There are usually two big problems associated with disability retirement (at least here in California). A lot of cops drag it out and don't file until the very last minute. It's kind of an ego thing. They do this in the hope that it will force their departments to file for disability retirement on their behalf. This way, when they apply for another job they can say there is nothing physically wrong with them, that they didn't want to retire and that their department forced them out. However, department's don't file on your behalf anymore. If you don't take the initiative to file yourself, they just terminate you when your leave credits run out, or demote you to a civilian position (with lesser pay, benefits and retirement) that is within your new limitations. The other problem is that the retirement system, ours (CalPERS) is painfully slow to approve disability retirements. So, if you are under the minimum age for a regular (service retirement) you have to rely on your savings until your disability pension comes through. Once you get it, your pension is usually retroactive, but nonetheless, it will have been a tight squeeze while you were waiting for it.

                            As an example, in 2004 my agency notified me that my work related injuries were such that I could no longer continue in my job. My 4800 time carried me over into 2005. I filed for disability retirement in June of 2005, but it wasn't until December of 2007 (2 years and 5 months later) that it was approved. Fortunately, I was above the minimum retirement age when I filed, so I was immediately granted service retirement pending approval of my disability retirement. But had I been under age 50 (our minimum retirement age) I would have had to struggle financially to make ends meet for almost two and a half years.

                            The lesson here (at least with me) is, if you know your job is going to be gone (and we all know that informally way ahead of time) you need to file your disability retirement application immediately. The pension system will usually work with you on the final retirement date so you can burn off your disability leave credits and maximize your retirement amount. But if you delay and screw around, it only lengthens the period in which you have to go without money.
                            Going too far is half the pleasure of not getting anywhere

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              That sucks, he should atleast get his benefits and enough pay to work him over to give him enough time to find a new job. But personally i wouldnt want this guy backing me up in a gun fight when his heart is pumping full throttle+.
                              Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

                              Comment

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