A former Chicago police trainee who became injured on his tenth day at the police academy has collected over $500,000 in disability payments from the police department over the past 15 years despite never having worked a day as a police officer.
Donald Barnes Jr., now 45 years old, collapsed from heat stroke five blocks into a three-mile run that was to be the first physical training exercise for his class at the police academy.
Diagnosed with kidney and liver damage because of the incident, Barnes never worked a day as a police officer but has collected the disability benefits that he is entitled to as a cop injured on duty, even as he pursued other work.
That’s because Chicago allows injured police officers to work other jobs while receiving disability benefits. The rule is meant to benefit cops injured in the line of duty who can’t return to work on the police force because of their injuries, but are not too injured to work less strenuous jobs.
When he is old enough to retire, Barnes will receive a full pension that will pay him at least $1.2 million, according to a Chicago Sun-Times report.
“He is currently, job-wise, working as a regional manager for Standard Parking,” a doctor wrote in a pension fund report about Barnes. Standard Parking manages the parking garages at O’Hare and Midway airports.
“It is basically a sedentary job,” the doctor went on. “When asked the question if he is able to discharge a firearm, he does state that he quite possibly would be able to discharge a firearm but would not be able to protect the gun.”
Barnes is just one of 347 disabled officers receiving the payments, which total $18 million each year, but the Sun-Times noted that he worked the least of all of them before he became disabled.