A veteran Fort Worth police officer fighting lung cancer is also fighting to keep her job of nearly 25 years.
Officer D.D. Willingham has been doing light duty for the past two years while battling lung cancer. This week, Willingham was told she could no longer do light duty and would be forced into early retirement if she couldn't come back full time. It's part of a Fort Worth city policy that the police chief and union want changed.
A luncheon Friday raised more than $3,000 to help pay the city of Fort Worth $32,000 to ensure Willingham will continue as a city employee until September when she retires.
"It's a very difficult situation and a difficult process that we are all having to endure but we're all coming together as we do as a police family," officer Shelby Meza said.
Willingham has run out of sick and vacation days. City policy says Willingham will be let go because she has a non-work related illness and cannot return full time.
Willingham has already taken out a loan for $32,000 to buy forward her employment to September, when she would hit 25 years with the department, to secure her retirement and benefits.
Meza says fellow officers are stepping up with fundraisers to help Willingham pay off the loan.
Rick Van Houton, president of the Fort Worth Police Officers Association, says officers have also stepped up to donate their sick and leave time to help.
"Now in their time of their greatest need, we're just really throwing the baby out with the bath water," Van Houten said.
On Wednesday, the city's human resource department told Willingham she had to give up her badge and gun. The city only took her gun, but the chief left a benefit lunch to get the gun back and return it to Willingham.
A spokesperson for the department told Fox 4 the chief does not like the policy and wants it changed.
Willingham's situation also has other officers concerned what will happen to them if they get sick.
Willingham is not the only officer dealing with the policy. A sick male officer unable to return full time had his badge and gun taken from him Thursday. The chief has since returned the badge and gun to the officer.
A donation page has been set up at http://www.gofundme.com/88460s.
KDFW FOX 4
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