HENRY COUNTY, Ga. — A state senator says a new bill, if passed, will address what he calls a longstanding injustice to certain officers who are injured in the line of duty.
In a Channel 2 Action News exclusive, investigative reporter Mark Winne spoke to Sen. Emanuel Jones, who said too many officers have actually lost money because they were hurt while protecting Georgians.
“I get very emotional talking about it. It’s something that needed to happen a long time ago, but I’m glad it took my incident to kind of get this bill going,” Henry County Sheriff’s Corporal Daniel Podsiadly said.
According to Podsiadly, he was injured in a July 16, 2023 ambush by Andre Longmore, a suspect in four murders in Hampton, Ga. the day before.
The bullet fired by Longmore nearly cost him his life, but it wound up costing him a big chunk of his paycheck once he went on worker’s compensation.
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Podsiadly said it paid a lot less than his salary, and even using vacation and sick leave, he was out thousands of dollars.
He told Channel 2 Action News that the incident sparked a spiritual awakening in him.
“If I had the time to tell you everything that has happened since that day concerning the spiritual relationship, it would wake a lot of people up,” Podsiadly said.
Podsiadly said God is now using what happened to him to potentially help other officers, in the form of a bill that could change how others in his situation are paid.
“It’s critically important to all of us at the state, is that our officers know that the State Legislature would have their back in the event of some kind of catastrophic injury or accident,” Jones told Winne.
Jones said he was inspired by what happened to Podsiadly, and after learning from Henry County Sheriff Reginald Scandrett that Podsiadly’s case is not isolated, he was moved to action.
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Along with Sen. Brian Strickland, Jones authored a bill to change how the State Board of Worker’s Compensation handles cases involving Georgia peace officers who suffer catastrophic injury in the line of duty while immediately engaged with a criminal suspect or in the immediate pursuit thereof.
“I can’t think of a better investment we can make at the state level than putting money towards making sure that those who have been injured protecting us can at least have the same standard of living while they’re trying to get better,” Strickland told Channel 2 Action News.
In addition to worker’s compensation, an affected officer shall be paid the difference between the worker’s compensation, disability, or their similar benefits paid by the officer’s employer, and that officer’s regular pay as a peace officer.
Jones said he’s identified a rarely used State Indemnification Fund for peace officers which could cover the difference.
“It’s important that if in all of our getting we get understanding that we help our officers, particularly [those] that are injured in the line of duty suffer less,” Scandrett said.
In Henry County, Scandrett said seven days after an incident like Podsiadly’s, the officer would begin getting just 66% of their pay through worker’s compensation.
“I’m humbled, quite frankly, that one would have a listening ear in our Senate that understands what the need is from a peace officer perspective and that we can work together, regardless of what side of the aisle you’re on,” Scandrett said.
Strickland said the legislation is not just words, but action, showing lawmakers ready to “stand up for those who are fighting for us every single day.”
Podsiadly told Channel 2 Action News that he’s back at work on light duty and hopes to be back to regular duty as a K-9 officer soon, but physically, he’ll never be the same.
Jones and Strickland say when the bill passes and is signed into law by Gov. Brian Kemp, it’ll be named for Podsiadly.
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