About 25 Longview police officers and a state law enforcement association rallied Tuesday around an officer injured in the line of duty who faces termination next week because of a city policy.
“Anybody with an open heart should start the process of contacting public officers — let’s start with the mayor and the city council,” Charley Wilkinson of the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas said during a news conference on behalf of officer Leigh Ann Snyder.
The seven-year veteran Longview officer suffered a fractured pelvis, femur and tibia Dec. 11 when a man later accused of drunken driving T-boned her police vehicle.
The wreck occurred on West Loop 281 near Texas 31 and the Reo Palm Isle ballroom.
Snyder, who sat in a chair in front of her walker on the police department front lawn, later said she had been poised to return to full-time duty when doctors ordered further surgery. The surgery was Nov. 15. Snyder had been working part time, light duty since June 25.
A city policy automatically terminates an employee if he or she misses 12 months of full-time work within a 24-month span.
“I was up to working six hours a day,” Snyder said. “But I was going to start eight hours a day, and I had to have surgery. I think they need to give me a chance.”
Police Chief Don Dingler did not respond to a request for comment. City Manager David Willard said, through a spokesman, that the wreck was unfortunate and the city wishes Snyder success in recovery from her injuries.
“We are concerned with the well-being of our employees, which is why we seek to provide disability options for employees should they no longer be able to work in the same capacity,” Willard wrote in a statement.
Longview spokesman Shawn Hara said Willard is bound by the city’s policy. The policy does not include any hardship clause that would apply to delays in returning to full-time work such as Snyder’s recent surgery.
“Now, the City Council, if they choose in the future, they could change the policy,” Hara said. “But with regard to staff, we can’t override the policy.”
Snyder is eligible to reapply for her job, Hara added.
“She would not have to start back over,” he said, referring to Snyder’s seniority level.
Ramon Dominguez, 23, of Longview, is set to plead guilty to intoxication assault with a vehicle Jan. 11 in connection with the wreck, county records show.
“A drunk, uninsured, unlicensed motorist T-boned her and put her into this position,” Wilkinson said.
Association attorney Richard Carter also said the city has filed two misconduct counts against Snyder as part of the termination process: being unable to report for duty and unable to provide a return date.
“They probably have prepared the paperwork saying she’s guilty,” Carter said. “Who are these people to say they know how long it takes for a body to recover, then limit that to 12 months?”
Before joining the Longview force, Snyder served 20 years in the military.
“I thought that Longview actually would look like the military — the same kind of ethics and values,” she said.