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Copyright 2005 Boston Herald Inc.

The Boston Herald

June 16, 2005 Thursday

NEWS; Pg. 002

364 words

Pol: Wounded cops merit lifetime pay

Ann E. Donlan

They paid the price on the streets of Boston, defying death on the beat.

But their work-related injuries have ravaged their lives, and city and state officials are asking taxpayers to pay back the sacrifice with full paychecks for life.

``It's not a difficult sell to make to my colleagues,'' said state Rep. Walter F. Timilty (D-Milton). ``These are people who have laid their lives on the line and are local heroes of sorts.''

Timilty is shepherding rare legislation through the State House that would pay full tax-free salaries for a trio of Boston cops injured during near-fatal shootings. The officers are William I. Griffiths, 49, the brother of slain Boston police officer Sherman Griffiths, who died in a Dorchester drug bust in 1988; Robert J. ``Doc'' Welby, 35; and the city's first female cop shot in the line of duty, Zenaida Flores, 32.

Without the special law, the trio would be eligible to receive 72 percent of their pay, said Boston police Sgt. Thomas Sexton. Base pay for a Boston police officer is $50,345, but officers are paid more for overtime, shift differentials, educational degrees and for other factors by contract.

The Legislature is considering the pay bills at the request of the Boston City Council.

Griffiths was on a bicycle patrol at 2:55 a.m. in July 2001 when he saw a state trooper struggling with a drug suspect on Stuart Street. Griffiths jumped into the fray and the suspect fired a shot that narrowly missed him and another Boston officer. Griffiths hurt his back in the scuffle - injuries that have resulted in multiple back surgeries, according to a Boston police union official and Timilty.

On New Year's Day 2003, Welby responded to a call at 5:45 a.m. for a call of a man inside 76 Radcliffe St. Welby and Sgt. Charlie Byrne were both wounded in the incident; Welby was shot in the back.

The most recent shooting happened in August 2002 in Chinatown when a drug dealer pumped 45-caliber bullets from a stolen handgun into Flores' arm and leg. He also shot at her partner, Officer Carlton Williamson, narrowly missing him.

``They're incredibly heroic officers who deserve our support,'' said Boston Police Commissioner Kathleen O'Toole.
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