Ex-Officer Says He Was 'Ill-Advised' to Join in Fitness Event
Friday, September 12, 2008
William C. O'Toole, one of two former assistant police chiefs in Montgomery County whose medical disability retirement packages are under scrutiny by the county's inspector general, said this week that it was "ill-advised" of him to participate in a 2007 physical fitness contest that included push-ups, sit-ups, a bench press and a 1 1/2-mile run.
But O'Toole said his herniated disk and bulging disks constitute rightful on-the-job injuries from his years on the force.
"My injuries are real. They are significant, and they are amply medically documented," O'Toole wrote in an e-mail, adding that his case "involves absolutely no fraud, waste, abuse or deceit in any way, shape or form."
O'Toole's case is part of a broader review by Inspector General Thomas J. Dagley, who has found that 62 percent of Montgomery police officers who have retired in the past four years are collecting disability payments. O'Toole called such statistics "eye-opening."
"If some individuals may have abused or defrauded the disability retirement process, such fraud is repugnant to me, and those responsible should be held accountable," O'Toole wrote. "A top-to-bottom review of the process is a responsible place to start."
O'Toole declined to answer questions about the case beyond his e-mail. He spent more than 20 years in the Montgomery department, serving as acting chief in 2003 and 2004. He said he twice hurt his back in the 1990s, then re-injured it in 2005, which led him to seek his post as executive director of the Northern Virginia Criminal Justice Training Academy.
When the academy held a fitness challenge last year, O'Toole said, he participated in part to show his commitment to "the cause of physical fitness." O'Toole said his doctor has him do certain exercises but probably would have "frowned" on his participation in the event. He placed second in the 50-59 age group but wrote this week that only three men participated in that group.
Timothy L. Firestine, the chief administrative officer to County Executive Isiah Leggett (D), said that just because an employee is incapacitated for a county job doesn't "necessarily mean that the employee is incapacitated for another non-county job."