A Minneapolis attorney said more than 150 police officers, or 20 percent of the police force, are filing disability claims due to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). According to the attorney, Ron Meuser Jr., the officers’ claims have mounted over the past six weeks since the officer-involved killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
“While law enforcement is a high-stress career, the last two months in Minneapolis have pushed many officers to their breaking point,” Meuser said at a July 10 news conference.
Since Floyd was killed on May 25, fires and looting have impacted or destroyed at least 1,500 businesses and caused $500 million in damages, the Twin Cities Pioneer Press reports. Minneapolis’ 3rd Precinct police station was set ablaze, and officials called on more than 7,000 National Guard members to respond to the unrest in the city. Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz also called on the Trump administration for federal aid to help rebuild the city.
“I’m seeing PTSD symptoms of officers with highly diminished capacity to live and socialize, extraordinary rates of divorce and alcohol dependency just to cope,” Meuser said in a statement. “It is an emotional crisis that cannot and should not continue,” said the attorney, who specializes in disability claims and representing public employees. He predicted that more than 200 officers may file for disability over the next few months.
Attorney Meuser said officers have approached him to file for disability claims with Minnesota’s Public Employment Retirement Association (PERA), and that many of these officers are veterans with around two decades of experience. He said officers in the 3rd Precinct the night of the fire sent loved ones text messages because they feared they would not make it out alive. Medaria Arradondo, the chief of the Minneapolis Police Department, which holds 850 officers, said he is not aware of the large figure presented by the lawyer.
The disability claims must be approved by the city; 90 percent of these claims are typically denied. The process usually takes six months, and officers will be off the streets during this time. The minimum benefit for a disability retirement claim is 60 percent of pay. This comes as the department continues to face pressure as the City Council considers defunding the force.