In October 1985, a 45-year-old Southampton Village Police lieutenant involved in fighting a house fire on Prospect Street in that town suffered smoke inhalation that required medical treatment. Shortly thereafter he suffered a heart attack. He recovered from that, but the following May he suffered another one, which killed him. He died on June 1, 1986.
Theodore Raffel Sr. was still a police officer when he died. He had served continuously on the force for 19 years, 364 days and 15.5 hours at the time of his death. He was survived by his widow, Jean, and a son, Ted Jr. Had he served another 8.5 hours, he would have completed exactly 20 years of service, making him eligible for a pension of about $250,000.
His wife’s claims for that pension were denied. Had it been approved, it would have set a bad precedent, New York State said. However, every year since he took office in 1995, State Assemblyman Fred Thiele has re-applied for that pension in the interest of justice, and this year, by adding safeguards that would prevent this claim from becoming precedent, had it approved, with interest.
Sometimes things work out. We are very proud that this effort, accompanied by efforts from Senator Ken LaValle, has resulted in the right thing being done.