Milwaukee Officers too Stressed to Work Cost Taxpayers Millions

There are nearly 100 Milwaukee police officers receiving monthly payments for job-related disabilities most of them earned doing legitimate police work. But 12 News has learned a small percentage have found a way to parlay performance problems into a...

"You don't know what the trigger is going to be, so we absolutely need the opportunity to refer somebody for evaluation and possibility for early retirement," Crivello said.

Liebold said the pension board now allows the department to present its own evidence at a duty disability hearing, but the problem persists.

"They got themselves into trouble, and instead of just dealing with the consequences, they're going to take the easy way out and manipulate a system that probably is broken and get paid for the rest of their lives," Liebold said.

Despite Benton's long disciplinary record, he, too, stood to collect more than $1 million in stress disability payments. Instead, he died in the fire that destroyed his nightclub -- a fire that police determined he set after they found gasoline poured throughout the club, gas cans left behind, and Benton's body clothed in a melted plastic rain suit, a latex glove and his shoes smelling of gasoline.

Disabled officers must undergo an annual checkup to ensure they're still unable to work.

The latest police contract includes new rules for officers hired after 2005 relating to stress disabilities. Applications must be reviewed by a standing three-member panel of doctors contracted with the city.

It's still unclear if that will make it harder to get a stress disability. The city said, so far, no one has applied under the new rules.

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