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Injured Longview officer moves to stall dismissal

By Peggy Jones pljones@news-journal.com
Dec. 10, 2012 at 10 p.m.

In a last-ditch effort to sway a personnel policy that will result in Longview police officer Leigh Ann Snyder's termination at the end of the day, Snyder and her attorney were scheduled to meet this afternoon with Police Chief Don Dingler.

Attorney Frank Weedon said Monday the meeting was sought with the hope of persuading the police chief to extend Snyder's leave of absence.

"Or, alternatively, if they lay her off, that they don't do it for violations of policy," her attorney said.

Snyder suffered two broken legs and a fractured pelvis one year ago when her squad car was hit by a drunk driver.

She returned to light duty this past June but had to undergo another surgery in mid-November which precluded her from being able to return to full duty within the 12 months required by city policy. The policy does not provide for exceptions.

Weedon said the city brought an internal affairs investigation against Snyder as part of the termination, citing violation of policy that she has to be fit for duty within one year. Weedon said it was unclear whether the internal investigation citing violation of policy would tarnish Snyder's work record and keep her from being subject to rehire.

"She is physically fit. She is a healthy person. She has every expectation of being able to return to full duties," Weedon said. "And she loves being a cop. She wants to return to being a cop."

City spokesman Shawn Hara said Snyder will be eligible to return to the force.

"Absolutely," Hara said. "She is eligible for rehire."

Snyder also will be eligible for 70 percent of her pay for up to two years. It was not clear how much of her temporary income benefits Snyder had drawn, Hara said.

After that is exhausted, Hara said, injured employees are eligible to draw long-term disability at up to 60 percent of their salary.

If she has not already applied for that benefit, Hara said, Snyder would be advised to do so today, before her employment ends at 5 p.m.

The one-year deadline for an injured city of Longview employee to return to full-time work is twice what it was before 2007, Hara said. Before that time, injured workers faced termination if they could not return to full duties within six months.

From 2003 to 2007, Hara said, three Longview city workers were dismissed from employment because they could not return to full time duties. Since 2007 - when the time limit was extended to 12 months - four people have been terminated for being unable to return to full-time duties, not including Snyder, Hara said.

"Our policies are in line with other cities," Hara said. "When we made the extension we did a survey and all city policies we found provided from three to 12 months to return to work. We are not aware of any cities that had a policy longer than 12 months."



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