City says they can't make exceptions for ETX officer injured - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

City says they can't make exceptions for ETX officer injured on duty, let go


An East Texas police officer was let go, a year after she was severely injured while on duty.

One year ago Tuesday, Longview Police Officer Leigh Ann Snyder was critically injured in a car wreck. According to Longview city policy, employees must be let go if they miss 12 months of full-time work in a two year period.

Members of the public have been outspoken, demanding the officer be allowed to keep her job. But Tuesday, she was terminated.

On December 11, 2011, Officer Snyder and a civilian passenger were responding to a burglary alarm when they were hit, head on, by a drunk driver. Snyder's injuries were the worst.

At a benefit in June, members of the community rallied in support as Snyder recovered.

"I'd like to say thank you to the community, to the police officers and to the fire fighters. Everybody has been absolutely wonderful. Without them, I couldn't have made it as far as I have," Snyder said in June.

All of those people who were by her side then, haven't left. A Facebook page asking the City of Longview to let her keep her job has more than 1,400 supporters.

"She faced down crack dealers, she stood strong on the streets of Longview, she cleaned up neighborhoods, and people commended her for her work. She was unafraid. She did everything that she was supposed to do and now it's our turn," says Charlie Wilkison, director of public affairs for the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas (CLEAT).

Recently, people have taken it upon themselves to contact Longview Mayor Jay Dean to express their frustration with the city's plans to let Snyder go.

"As mayor, I care about every one of our employees," says Dean.

Dean says four employees have been let go due to the same policy since 2007. Before then, employees were let go after missing 6 months of full-time work. After community members expressed their concerns about the 6-month policy, Longview extended the policy to give injured employees 12 months off work before they'd lose their jobs.

"Some of the outcry is because Officer Snyder is a police officer. Why don't we make the exception? Well, these people were hurt doing their job as well and some of these jobs are dangerous as well... the sanitation guy jumping off the back of the truck, public works people out fixing pot holes," says Dean.

Dean says he'd rather not execute the policy, but he must.

CLEAT says what has happened to Snyder is unjust.

"If she would have been killed, these same people would be draping themselves in her uniform. They would have been calling her a hero," says Wilkison.

Mayor Dean says the city has a safety net in place for employees, like Snyder, who are injured on the job. Though Snyder is no longer a police officer, he says she will continue to be paid 70 percent of her salary, untaxed, for two years. The city says she'll receive insurance coverage for childcare and renovations to her house, helping make it handicap accessible.

Dean adds, "My biggest hope and prayer is that when she is cleared medically and can return to full duty, that she will reapply. I feel pretty confident that she will find her spot again."

The driver of the car that hit Officer Snyder's patrol unit was 22-year-old Ramon Dominguez. Dominguez will be sentenced on intoxication assault charges at the beginning of next year.

Copyright 2012 KLTV. All rights reserved.

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