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Orlando Officer With PTSD From Pulse Ordered To Desk Job

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

An Orlando police officer diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder after the Pulse shooting has been ordered back to work.

The Orlando Police Department ordered Gerry Realin to work for city hall in the STOPS office. He would administer a bike safety program in the red light camera enforcement department.

His wife, Jessica Realin, said three of her husband’s doctors say he is disabled from PTSD and can’t do police work.

“They’re all saying Gerry is fully disabled from PTSD, that he can no longer be a police officer,” Realin said. “So why is it the city of Orlando and the Orlando police department come up with these alternative positions?”

Realin was on the team of officers who removed bodies from the Pulse nightclub where a shooter killed 49 people and injured more than 50 others. He hasn’t been able to work since the diagnosis, but under Florida’s workers compensation law, he isn’t eligible for lost wages. The Orlando Police Department has been paying his salary anyway.

Deputy Chief Orlando Rolon said Realin isn’t cleared to do work for the police department, but that the new position is in City Hall and isn’t a police position. Realin was supposed to report Monday, but has not.

“It (the absence) could be deemed to be insubordination that could carry disciplinary action to include the possibility of termination,” Rolon said. “We hope that never becomes the case.”

Paolo Longo, an attorney representing the Realins, said when an employer starts using words like “order” and “insubordination” in written communication, it’s a red flag.

“[OPD] is still paying his salary, but you can tell just from their posture that they’re tired of doing that,” Longo said. “It’s admirable that they’re making an effort to keep him employed, it just has to be within the restrictions the doctors give, and it has to be on the right timeline. That’s the rub. That’s what typically happens in a workers’ comp case is the employer pushes and pushes and pushes to get someone back to work, and they say, well, you refused, so you’re fired.

Health News Florida reporter Abe Aboraya works for WMFE in Orlando. He started writing for newspapers in high school. After graduating from the University of Central Florida in 2007, he spent a year traveling and working as a freelance reporter for the Seattle Times and the Seattle Weekly, and working for local news websites in the San Francisco Bay area. Most recently Abe worked as a reporter for the Orlando Business Journal. He comes from a family of health care workers.