Paralyzed Fort Worth officer battles benefit cuts

Lisa Ramsey

Credit: WFAA

Fort Worth police Officer Lisa Ramsey is undergoing physical therapy more than 10 years after she was paralyzed from the waist down after being shot in the line of duty.

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by JANET ST. JAMES

WFAA

Posted on July 8, 2013 at 5:12 PM

Updated Monday, Jul 8 at 5:14 PM

FORT WORTH — Physical therapy is often painful for 51-year-old Lisa Ramsey, but she says the treatment is not as painful as her fight for benefits from the City of Fort Worth.

Officer Ramsey was shot and paralyzed from the waist down on January 2, 2003 during an undercover operation.

"If you could wave a wand and give me my legs back, I'd be jumping up and down to get back on those streets and protect this community," she said. "Even now. Even if you told me, 'In five years, you're going to end up paralyzed.' I'd go back out there. That's how much I loved it."

Ramsey did fight her way back to duty, though not to the streets she loves. Until a pressure sore sidelined her recently, Ramsey had performed mostly computer and phone work at the police academy for about 20 hours a week.

For years, Fort Worth has voluntarily paid sidelined police officers for a full 40-hour work week. Cities are only required by state law to pay full wages for a year after an officer is injured in the line of duty.

In a memo to the mayor and City Council members, City Manager Tom Higgins explained that Ramsey's salary must now be cut by about $35,000 in order to comply with the Texas Labor Code that limits wages, when combined with workers compensation.

Officer Richard Lambing, catastrophically injured in the line of duty on July 8, 2010, also faces the benefit reduction.

Ramsey says it's not the first time the city has tried to cripple her benefits.

"Immediately after I got home from the hospital, they started sending people to my home trying to bully me into medical retirement," she said.

Ramsey said she could retire from the force in five years. Until then, she'd like to work all she can to support herself and her teenage daughter.

Ramsey has offered to work full-time, though she says she would need to work from home because she faces challenges unfamiliar to most able-bodied people. Ramsey currently has two wheelchairs that need maintenance. Once is missing a wheel; another no longer functions.

She said home health care workers often don't show up on time.

"If they're not there to help me —  to shower and get dressed — then I can't make it to work," Ramsey explained. "And if I can't make it to work, then somebody at the city's going to be upset."

City officials weren't available to comment in advance of Tuesday's City Council meeting. The Council will be be asked to consider or deny requests for extension of line-of-duty pay for both officers at the meeting.

When they do, Lisa Ramsey said she'll be there as a very physical reminder to those she fought to protect and of everything she lost in the line of duty.

E-mail jstjames@wfaa.com

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