Nearly three months after the tragic shootings at the Sandy Hook Elementary School, five Newtown police officers are still off the job because of the mental trauma of seeing the tragedy.
Detective Daniel McAnaspie and Detective Jason Frank, who were at the school within 15 minutes on December 14, came to the state Capitol on Wednesday to speak in favor of a new, privately-financed fund that would help the officers in the 45-member department. The fund is needed because workers’ compensation does not cover psychological trauma in the same way that it did not cover the Stamford police officer who shot Travis the chimp to death after the chimp had attacked Charla Nash outside a home in North Stamford in February 2009.
“I think in this incident there was nobody reluctant to step forward and ask for the help that was necessary,” McAnaspie said.
“While working that day, if I had fallen down and broken my ankle, I would have been covered immediately from that day through my entire recovery,” McAnaspie said of workers compensation. “I wouldn’t have had to use any of my sick time or my own time. But because they don’t recognize mental illness as a physical injury, they are stating that we are not covered under workers’ comp the way it is written today.”
The officers were there so quickly that, as Frank described it, ”When we entered the building, you could still smell the gunpowder. We were there fairly soon.”
The officers declined to comment on the ongoing investigation into shooter Adam Lanza and his mother, Nancy Lanza, as well as the upcoming report on the shootings by the state’s attorney’s office in Danbury.