A DeWitt Township police officer, who was injured in a car accident two years ago while on duty and has been waiting on a necessary hip replacement so he can get back to work, was fired last week after 14 years of service.
"I asked, 'Could I have a little more time?'" Robert Stump said. "He said two years felt like enough to him."
In January 2020, Robert was hit head-on at 70 mph by a suspect fleeing in her vehicle.
"He was not able to put weight on his hip for three months, so he was in a wheelchair," Robert's wife Molly Stump said. "We knew somewhere between six months and a year afterwards that the repairs done to his original hip were not going to let him go back to work the way he was."
The Stumps started advocating for a hip replacement, something Robert's trauma doctor told him was inevitable.
"Worker's comp is known for being harder to work with," Molly said. "They'd say, 'Well let's try this first,' so there'd be an injection or another therapy we think is going to help and so we have to go through those hoops because worker's comp kind of dictates that."
Delays brought on by the pandemic did not help.
Molly said the two years Robert has been unable to work was caused by "things we had no control over."
"I asked my doctors, 'Can I go back to work?' and my doctors have said, 'Yes, but only at a limited capacity,' light duty," Robert said. "The answer was, 'The township will not approve light duty for you.'"
Three weeks ago, Robert's hip replacement was finally scheduled for May 11.
But, on Thursday, Robert said DeWitt Township Manager Andrew Dymczyk called him into his office and told him that with no return to work date scheduled, he would be fired.
The letter from the township read, "The township has maintained your health care benefits throughout this time at its own expense while you received workers compensation benefits. You do not have accumulated unused paid leave available at this point. It is our understanding that there is no present medical indication about when or if you'll e able to return to work as a full-time patrol officer for the township."
"We're very overwhelmed, very confused," Molly said.
"Very hurt," Robert added.
"Very," Molly said. "How do you go from two years ago being hailed a hero...and now you're a burden to us financially?"
Dymczyk declied to comment on Stump's firing, writing in an email, "To protect the privacy of our employees, DeWitt Charter Township does not publicly comment on personnel matters. We are forever grateful for Officer Stump’s 14 years of service and dedication to serving our residents. We wish him continued success in his recovery."
DeWitt Township Police Chief Mike Gute said he is not involved with Stump's termination, and he cannot comment on it.
"People need to know that the people that are protecting them are not being protected themselves, and that affects them because these are great officers that he's worked with for a long time—amazing people that are now questioning, 'Do I go to this dangerous situation and put myself in that situation if—I know what happened to Bob. Is this going to happen to me?'" Molly said.
Robert said in an ideal world, he would love to get back to work.
"That's my goal. It has been since day one," Robert said.
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