What's up, Doc?

By Bobby Lopez

I just got back from vacation on Tuesday, and before I even got to the office, I saw this article in the Mercury News. In case you didn’t catch it, Dr. Rajiv Das, who advises San Jose’s Police and Fire Retirement Board on disability claims, has been accused by some of holding up the process.

As sometimes happens when there’s a controversial story involving police, a Mercury reporter, John Woolfolk, called me for a comment. The final story includes bits and pieces of all that I said, but it doesn’t accurately reflect my position.

First off, I have no personal problem with Dr. Das, and I have never referred to him as “Dr. No.” I have heard rumors that others refer to him that way, and that’s all I told Mr. Woolfolk.

My concern is that Dr. Das is overworked. As it says in the paper, Dr. Das also serves as a medical consultant to the pension board for civilian retirees and performs yearly physicals and driving and drug tests on city employees. That’s a lot of work, and it means Dr. Das reports to no less than three different governing bodies at City Hall. I doubt that he has a lot of free time.

Meanwhile, we have cops suffering from disabilities that keep them from doing the job they swore to do, the job they live to do. They’re forced to stay home with no income and wait for their claim to come through. Sometimes, this process can take six months or more. These are men and women with families to feed and bills to pay. They simply can’t afford to wait.

We have one member who’s been waiting on her claim for almost five months now. In that time, the medical insurance that covers her and her daughter has run out and her car has been repossessed. Adding insult to her injury, we found out the POA can’t assist her through our catastrophic emergency fund because of legal issues with workers’ compensation.

The City needs to reduce Dr. Das’ workload and get these claims processed more efficiently. Maybe that means hiring another physician to help Dr. Das. Maybe it means streamlining the claim process. Either way, we need a fair and equitable disability retirement system that supports our public safety employees who have sacrificed their bodies to keep us safe.

Bobby Lopez is President of the San Jose Police Officers' Association.

Comments

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And yet another hit piece against the SJPD in an editorial in today's Mercury News....

http://www.mercurynews.com/opinion/ci_13573684

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Why is it the reporters from the Mercury repeatedly write things that are false and get away with it? Also, seeing fellow officers who are legitimately hurt or made sick at work, and then getting dragged through a process where they are presumed to be making something up, unfortunately forces officers to think twice before putting themselves in harms way and into an adveserial process at a time when the officer should be trying to get well. The reason we have a high proportion of officers on disability is because we have too few officers. The less officers we have means a higher proportion of those officers suffering injuries or illness increases to the total amount of officers. If we only had 2 officers and 1 went on disability, we would have 50% of the department on disability. This is the bean counters at the city and reporters twisting facts around and distorting facts.

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President Lopez,
The POA has insurance for this officer. Why hasn't she used that? Someone from the POA dropped the ball and hasn't provided her with the information. You might have saved her the problems.