Norwalk police officer testifies in support of better benefits for injured first responders

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NORWALK -

A Norwalk police officer who was shot while on the job took his fight for better compensation to the state capital Tuesday.

Officer Phil Roselle, along with his wife and two sons, testified on behalf of a bill that would give more comprehensive benefits to first responders hurt while working.

Supporters say that when a police officer is killed in the line of duty, family members get significant financial help. However, when an officer survives but is left with permanent injuries, they say that it's a battle to get full pay.

Officer Roselle hopes to change that. Roselle was accidentally shot in 2017 by his sergeant during firearms training.

"The bullet went through my arm, which paralyzed my arm, and into my chest where I still carry the 9 mm," says Roselle.

Roselle testified before the Public Safety and Security Committee about how the shooting also led to dialysis sessions, depression and fights with the Workers' Compensation Commission.

Roselle's family members say they have seen him decline and that he gets down a lot.

Roselle, who marks 31 years as a police officer this month, is now being forced to leave. This has led to financial struggles for the Roselles.

Under current law, public safety employees in Connecticut can only receive up to 75 percent of their pay from workers' compensation when forced into retirement by an injury. This bill would allow cities and towns to make up the difference in pay until age 65.

"It's not fair," says wife Debbie Roselle. "It's not right and we need to step up and do the right thing for the personnel, for the first responders that put their lives on the line for all of us. And it's just the right thing to do."

The Public Safety Committee must now decide whether the bill should advance to the full Legislature. The Roselles say the bill is modeled after a similar program in Massachusetts.

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