Police Officer Is Fired But Secures Medical Retirement For Injuries . . . While Competing in Triathlons

GlembaThere is an interesting story about of Arizona involving an elite athlete Audrey Glemba, 49, who completed her latest Ironman Arizona last competition in November. Glemba has an impressive history of such competitions. The problem is that Glemba is a medically-retired police officer who collected worker’s compensation because she insisted that she was unable to meet even the minimum of duties as an officer. Glemba’s history is even more troubling.

Glemba reported a back and knee injury in 1995 during a training exercise with the Mesa Police Department. She was later promoted to sergeant and in 2002 she became supervisor of the Dobson Bicycle Squad. However, that 1995 injury appears to have been the basis for her medical retirement in 2008. It gets more bizarre. During that period from the injury to her medical retirement, she reportedly ran 29 races, including 10 triathlons. That is far more demanding than any police exercise or fitness requirement.

Yet, it gets even more bizarre. Before she was given a medical retirement, Glemba was under investigation by the internal affairs division. The investigation found that Glemba and members of the squad she supervised were taking photos of themselves, the homeless and disabled. The photos were offensive and ridiculed the homeless and disabled people in the pictures. It led to Glemba being fired in December 2008. However, she appealed her termination. In the meantime, the local pension board simply approved her medical retirement request. It is not clear what investigation was made or how the board could have missed Glemba competitions. It found that she was entirely unable to fulfill the basic functions of a police officer while Glemba was competing with elite athletes. She was also featured on a radio program for ripping out a kitchen and putting in a new one only months after the medical retirement. She was reportedly selected as the top performer in the handiest woman competition with Rosie on the House radio show.

She was briefly reinstated, retired with full benefits, and the investigation closed.

Two years after her retirement, Glemba applied for worker’s compensation and the city of Mesa is paying $508 a month for the rest of Glemba’s life in addition to her medical retirement benefits.

Glemba refused to say anything — which is a wise move given the possibility of fraud allegations. She only told the media that “This case has been tried to conclusion. If you … I’m not going to try it on television.”

It is not just Glemba but the police department and the local pension board that should be answering questions. Since she has continued to receive benefits, there is a risk of a criminal investigation. However, she can claim that she is the beneficiary of physical therapy.

Source: KPHO

35 thoughts on “Police Officer Is Fired But Secures Medical Retirement For Injuries . . . While Competing in Triathlons”

  1. Ms. Glemba, re the gratuitous “itchinBayDog” comment, one thing you’ll note on this blog is that there are lots of really ballsy men willing to speak disrespectfully while hiding behind a pen name – otherwise living life with a permanent lip quiver. I commend you for telling your story openly. It’s a mark of character.

  2. Somebody throw a banana peel under her path and hope she falls on her fanny and has a real disability.

  3. Thank you, Mr. Vieira, I couldn’t have said it better. Mr. Spinelli, that is a path I may definitely have to pursue. Thank you for the information.

  4. Ms. Glemba, I made a pretty good living doing insurance fraud work as a PI. That was the bulk of my business. That may a good avenue for you to pursue. I turned down a lot of work because fraud is so systemic and growing. It would be a win/win for you and the taxpayers of Arizona. Just a suggestion.

  5. Having been a high school and collegiate athlete I have no problem with the notion that you can be injured as Ms. Glemba claims and then come back and run marathons. Likewise many do marathons while injured. This notion is not just an exception but is generally the rule for hardcore athletes. At 51 I’ve gone through this process multiple times in my life.

  6. Mr. Spinelli,

    Thank you for the response and for the offer to stay on this site. I too hope my position turns profitable enough to completely eliminate the Workers’ Compensation money I am receiving. That is my goal. Thanks again for your time.

  7. Ms. Glemba, I must say I am impressed by your responses here. I hope your new career advances to a point where you no longer will be taking money from the taxpayers. My other hope is that you remain here and become a regular commenter. That will allow folks to get to know you and based on these few comments, maybe lessen the negative impression.

  8. Mr. Smith,

    Thank you very much for taking the time to write. I do appreciate it. Yes, it seems curious that I can do what I do physically, but please remember that I retired 5 years ago and have undergone hundreds of hours of physical therapy to get to where I am. There are also many other people with disabilities who can do an Ironman but cannot do all the functions of a police officer.

    Mr. Spinelli, I have been gainfully employed for some time now. I just make less than I did as a police officer. The news article failed to mention that as well. I can understand you have your doubts, but what I say is accurate. All I can do is present the other side and give you the opportunity to have an open mind about me.

    Thank you.

  9. Ms. Glemba

    First, we thank you for coming to the blog and giving your side of this issue. This is only the second time I have seen someone who was written about who took the time to offer their perspective.

    I would like to apologize for the last paragraph of my comment two before this one. I shouldn’t have said that and it was a disservice to you regardless of the situation you were in either way. I shouldn’t have characterized you as being a discredit when I haven’t met you. I am sorry for that and I will work to not do this again for you or others in the future.

    You do bring a point up that most are not aware of. Law Enforcement and Firefighter disability is not always the same as what most people understand to be disability, that being physically totally disabled. It is as you mentioned generally the inability to perform the duties of a LEO due to an on the job injury.

    But what brings up this controversy is the set of events. That is the strife between you, your department, and possibility the city involved. There was the firing, then the reinstatement, a short time and then a medical retirement, and then your successes in your athletic ability. People draw conclusions on this. As I stated before I don’t have the facts about things, I think what was reported about the pictures on the PD’s wall was pretty weak, if that is all there was, it’s not something worth firing over. I will grant you that. So if the reinstatement was ordered for that reason alone, I would say your reinstatement was reasonable.

    I might be wrong but from what I see there must have been some big controversy / politics going on in your department whatever the cause and my experience has been when these type of issues happen, more often the medical retirement or early retirement seems to happen where both sides can get what they want. That is what I think, correctly or not. I suppose if there wasn’t the conflict in the department I wouldn’t myself pay much attention. But it does sound rather curious that someone disabled for a knee and back injury would run marathons later. But then again I can understand, from what I read in your reply, that the surgery you might have suffered was enough to leave the force.

    Again, Thank you for offering your rebuttal.

  10. Ms. Glemba, You will have to excuse me for not relying on you for “the facts.” I have investigated insurance fraud cases for decades. Nothing you have said mitigates the fact that you are a triathlete collecting disability. Your nuanced bureaucratic explanation is something I have heard in the many cases I’ve investigated. You could not pick a worse person to try and sell that story. I could not see “the tables turned” because I could never see me living on the dole if I were someone of your physical prowess and stamina. I live w/ chronic pain and have much empathy for those who do, and still suck it up and work. Regarding the “worker’s” compensation. It’s just a pet peeve of mine. It has been called “worker’s” comp for over 20 years. The hardworking taxpayers of Arizona deserve the respect of you knowing the name of the department paying for your lifestyle.

    Ms. Glemba, you ALLUDE to the possibility of returning to work and forfeiting your disability payments. Please let us know when that happens. Until then, I don’t see much to discuss.

  11. Mr. Spinelli,
    If the most fault you can find in the true facts of my case are that I called it “workman’s compensation” rather than “worker’s compensation”, I would request that you take a step back and really review what I said. You would want the same if the tables were turned and you had a story printed about you that stated misinformation and left out many critical facts. Thanks

  12. Ms. Glemba, Firstly, it’s not “workman’s” compensation it’s “worker’s” compensation. Secondly, your case is in the mainstream media. This is a great blog, but the demographic is not nearly as many as the news outlets covering your story. Finally, regarding your reputation, many I suggest a mirror.

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