Former McAllen police officer loses benefits

A Veteran and former police officer is about to face some serious hardship.

He learned his financial fate in a letter from the city of McAllen.

While working for the McAllen police department in 2004, Harold Taylor said he came down with chronic pancreatitis, and in 2009, he faced major surgery.

"I was told by an employee with authority with the city that I had the option to if I wish to retire using my military time to make it equivalent to 26 years," said Taylor.

He said he was told he would also have full retirement benefits including a 50 percent discount on health insurance premiums.

He retired in May of 2009, and he said for a year and a half he used the discount something he said he needs because of his condition.

"Mr. Taylor relied a life decision on what he was told and the benefits were in fact given to him for a significant time," said Regina Richardson, attorney at law.

But on Veterans Day, Taylor received a letter revoking those benefits because the city's records show he worked as an officer for 22 years and 2 months, not the 25 years required.

His four years in the military didn't count.

"Had I known that when I inquired about retiring, I would have stuck it through and went ahead and served the 25 years."

"He cannot unretire now. He retired with the understanding that he was going to receive this benefit," said John Sierega with the Texas Municipal Police Association.

The Texas Municipal Police Association, lawyer Regina Richardson and the American GI Forum are backing him up.

They want the city to re-instate the benefits.

The McAllen police chief also said he is doing what he can to try to help this former police officer.

McAllen Police Chief Victor Rodriguez commented over the phone that he's trying to take this issue to the city manager and city commission in order to try to get some relief for Taylor without violating any kind of contract.

"I just think that the city should honor its promise to me when I retired," said Taylor.

Without the benefits Taylor says he'll have a hard time affording his medical treatment.

The city of McAllen tells us it's an unfortunate misunderstanding.

They said the collective bargaining agreement specifically states the retiring officer must have 25 years of service with the city.

They cannot make any exceptions, but they can have a staff member meet with Taylor to explore outside resources to help with medical expenses.