Officer Diagnosed With Viral Meningitis Says She's Now Been Fired - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

8/7/07-Longview

Officer Diagnosed With Viral Meningitis Says She's Now Been Fired

A well-known police officer in Longview says the city is getting rid of her. This, after she was hospitalized with a potentially fatal case of viral meningitis. Officer Judy Ivory-Gilliland says all she wants is what's rightfully hers - a job.

Officer of the Year, Star Over Longview, Resource Officer for Longview High School - these are just some of the honors Officer Judy Ivory-Gilliland has received in her nearly 18 years with the Longview Police Department. 

"They [the students] always called me 'Officer Judy.' They didn't call me 'Officer Ivory,' and I just liked working with the kids," she said.

But Officer Judy says that changed back in February with one trip, as she was driving three sick students home.

"The nurse told me that she couldn't get in touch with their parents, and the kids were sick and as a school Resource Officer what we usually do is transport them home," Officer Judy said.

After that, Officer Judy got sick and was later diagnosed with viral meningitis.  She was in a coma for two weeks and in the hospital for two months. 

"I just ... I just don't remember any of it," she said.

Officer Judy no longer has the virus, and her doctor has "OKed" her to go back to work on light-duty.  But ...

"They said that they didn't have any light-duty for me," Judy said.

The city says light-duty work is only reserved for employees who take a leave of absence for a job-related illness. 

"We do not feel that it is work-related," said Karri Hyko, Human Resources Director for the city.

Since Officer Judy can't fully return to work, her six-month grace period is up in just a week.  

"She told me that my termination day would be August 14," Judy said. "I just feel like I'm being punished for getting sick, by kids that I transported."

The case is currently under review by the city; and, for now, Officer Judy has not been fired.  

"This is our policy and we try to maintain consistency. It applies to all employees," Hyko said.

Even for an honored agent with almost 18 years of service under her belt.

The city's human resources department says there is an appeals process through the City Manager's Office.  Officer Judy said she plans on going through that process, no matter how long it takes.

Tracy Watler/Reporting: tracy@kltv.com

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