As if being a police officer wasn’t more than enough service to fellow citizens, Suffern Police Department’s Officer Billy Simurra has been called up to active duty but is being financially penalized by the Village of Suffern board for serving his country.
Police Officer Simurra, a member of the SPD for a year and a half is also known as Tech Sergeant Billy Simurra of the United States Air Force. He is being deployed for three months in combat operations in the Middle East and is part of a flight crew.
Simurra, in addition to being a police officer and an Air Force reservist, was raised in Suffern, attended RP Connor School, put himself through the police academy, is also a certified paramedic and recently received a lifesaving award.
An antiquated NY State law combined with the current Village of Suffern board have conspired to cost Simurra pay and benefits for part of his deployment. New York State law provides pay and benefits for a minimum of 30 days of deployment. At Monday’s board meeting, the Suffern Village board voted unanimously to go with the state minimum while other municipalities in Rockland have passed resolutions to pay employees called up for active duty in full and have them turn their military pay, which is less, back to the municipality.
In checking with other departments and municipalities throughout the county, the Rockland Star was unable to find any instance where a public employee was penalized financially or otherwise for being called up for active duty.
But wait, there is much more. Officer Simurra’s salary and benefits have already been budgeted for meaning that his deployment is not adding an additional financial burden to the taxpayers of the village of Suffern although in any event, would anyone argue against paying a man for putting his life on the line for his country?
Fortunately for Simurra who is popular in the community and amongst his peers, he has the backing of the men and women he works with. Each Suffern Police Officer is giving up their own days off in order to cover Simurra’s shifts for the time he is deployed to ensure that he doesn’t lose the salary and benefits that he so justly deserves. Essentially, the Suffern PBA has taken responsibility to not only provide, but to also pay for out of their own pockets, a service and coverage that is the responsibility of the village of Suffern.
“This man puts his life on the line for the residents of Suffern every day and is now putting his life on the line for our nation” said Suffern PBA President Detective Sergeant John Mallon, “I am disgusted by the action taken by this board that would effectively reduce his pay and benefits while deployed in combat operations.”