Ombudsman For Injured Law Enforcement and First Responders Introduced

LUBBOCK TX - Monday District 83 Representative Dustin Burrows introduced Ombudsman Yolanda Garcia who will represent law enforcement officers and first responders who were hurt on the job.

"To this day, I miss it. I'm in a civilian status now, but had I had this liaison when I was fighting it, things might've been a lot different," Former Texas Tech Police Officer Ricky Wallace said.

Wallace was hurt in 2014.

"I made the phone call to my wife laying on my back, 'I've been injured.'"

Wallace said he tried everything to get back to work, but due to the complicated claim process, he started working in I.T. and still foots the bill for his rehab costs.

He, along with other brothers in blue, fought hard to pass House Bill 2082.

"For weeks, months, and years afterward...these people are learning and working through a complicated system," District 83 Representative Dustin Burrows said.

Ombudsman Yolanda Garcia has already taken on 13 claims since the law took effect in September. Garcia will be based in Lubbock, fighting for injured first responders statewide.

"I did help a Lubbock Police Officer. We were able to resolve his dispute, and they accepted his injury," Garcia said. "We are now working through the process of him obtaining the medical help needed for his injury."

Wallace said it's too late for him to reap the benefits of the new legislation, but he's hoping other officers will have a better chance than he did.

"We've [law enforcement] got hatred all over the place against us, and to know that anybody could possibly get injured by any means...this bill is there."

Wallace recommended that family members of law enforcement officers and first responders go ahead and look into the new law, so that if something did happen to their loved one, they would know what to do.

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