After serving 22 years in the NYPD, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams said he was stunned Monday to hear that the department either lost or misplaced official documents recorded after the September 11th terror attacks.
"The police department gave to the law department a large volume of records," Adams said at a press conference. "roll calls and other records that would indicate where officers were."
17 years later, officers with 9/11-related illnesses need those documents to get their retirement pension.
After a rigorous medical exam, applicants must also provide two forms of documentation that shows they were present during recovery efforts.
For NYPD Lieutenant Maureen Gill, the absence of the NYPD's official records left her scrambling to find her old notes as she underwent chemotherapy for breast cancer.
"It's only because I had saved my memo books that I was able to prove that I was down there," said Gill.
Still, Gill's application was denied. Her situation, according to Adams, is one he's heard about from other officers. Now, he wants the pension board to reduce their requirement to only one form of documentation.
"You cannot deny documented 9/11-related illnesses for the officers because of the sloppy record-keeping," said Adams.
According to the NYPD, less than a dozen applications have been denied. The department added that more than 1,000 claims have been verified.
Adams said he's concerned about the officers that'll be filing for their pensions in the years to come.
"It's only going to get worse. If we don't fix this problem now, we're going to have a large number of officers and first responders who are going to go without the necessary care that they deserve," said Adams.
Adams held a press conference Monday at Brooklyn Borough Hall to address the issue. He said that without drawing attention to what is happening nothing will change. He now wants city lawmakers to get involved.
City Councilman Donovan Richards, the chair of the Committee on Public Safety and City Councilman Ritchie Torres, who serves as chair for the Oversight & Investigations Committee, both said they'll review the situation.
"We take referrals from the Borough President's office very seriously, and will be reviewing the materials in this matter," Torres said in a statement to NY1.
"We will absolutely take a look at this issue to ensure that any officer who sacrificed their health at Ground Zero receives the proper disability pension that they deserve sooner rather than later," said Councilman Donovan Richards, chair of the Committee on Public Safety. "While we are coming up on another September 11 to remember all of the lives lost 17 years ago, we as a city must do everything in our power to provide the proper care and security for first responders who risked their own well-being to search, rescue and repair the damage that tore a hole in our city. Anything less would be unacceptable."
The NYPD said that all pension fund decisions can be contested if a member is dissatisfied with the result.
"All the records relating to the deployment of officers at Ground Zero that the NYPD was able to provide the Law Department in the aftermath of 9/11 have been returned. We also provided electronic copies to both the Police Pension Fund and the NYPD to facilitate officers' requests for 'proof of presence' at Ground Zero," the city's law department said in a statement Monday night.