We conservatives tend to bristle at tax dollars being lavished on benefits for people who work in the public sector. It’s one of the big things that make us conservatives.
We tend to make exceptions for certain groups that are charged with keeping the public safe, particularly because they are risking life and limb to do so.
This is DEFINITELY one of those instances where we should be “liberal” so to speak.
On December 3rd of 2015, Deputy Mike “Hutch” Hutchinson of the Deuel County Sheriff’s Department exited his patrol vehicle to serve an arrest warrant on suspect Neil Stretesky, who was wanted for Failure to Appear and Felony Attempted Murder charges.
With his backup at the bottom of the hill that overlooked part of Big Springs Nebraska, Hutchinson shifted his jacket in the cool winter air as he walked to the back of his vehicle to retrieve his ballistic gear.
Suddenly, he was faced with something no officer ever wants to face- an ambush.
Finding himself face to face with a shotgun-armed Stretesky, he was instructed to surrender his service weapon. When he refused, a shot was fired, causing the shotgun to malfunction. Taking advantage of the opportunity, Hutchinson attempted to wrestle the shotgun from Stretesky, turning the altercation into a ground battle.
Then it happened: Hutchinson was shot four times with a 9mm pistol.
That, of course is bad enough, what has happened since then is probably worse.
Deputy Hutchinson, who is an 8-year Army veteran eventually had backup arrive and Stretesky was subsequently killed by Sheriff R. Scott DeCoste, who doesn’t appear to have Hutchinson’s back now as Deuel County commissioners have effectively canceled his insurance by basically refusing to vote on continuing it.
Instead of backing up their officer, the poorly-funded county canceled the health insurance he and his wife depend on, leaving them with a COBRA fee that runs about $1,500 a month.
During his treatment, Hutchinson found himself fighting everything from the deadly c.diff infection to the county commissioners who have remained largely apathetic to his precarious position in regards to cutting his benefits.
As stated before, the Sheriff’s Department doesn’t really have his back on this either.
“You know the expression from the military, ‘I’ve got your six?” the eight-year Army veteran asked with disappointment in his voice. “I expected them to be there. My six never felt more open when I was ambushed.”
Hutchinson says even Sheriff R. Scott DeCoste -who shot Stretesky- failed to back him up in the Commissioner’s meeting.
“He’s riding the fence about the whole thing,” the Deputy said. “Didn’t say a damn word in the meeting. When it was over, he just walked away.”
Maybe there is more to this, if so I’d love to know it, because this just seems crazy. You can’t charge defenders of public safety to risk their lives and then not be there for them when they are injured. That’s a basic function government regardless of your ideology. Not taking care of law enforcement prevents good people from wanting to take or keep the job. According to the report Deuel County has financial issues. I can understand being in a tough position like that, but if there isn’t a fund to care for first-responders when they are injured then maybe they should audit how their money is spent to figure out a way to make that happen.
Limited as it may be there is something we can do to help:
We reached out to Hutchinson’s family and asked if there was a fundraising page we could share, but they said that the community has come together for them, and at this time they are not asking for contributions. They would appreciate your prayers, though. You can follow Deputy Hutchinson’s recovery, and his family’s legal battle to regain his medical insurance on Facebook, here.
Here’s what WE can do. Contact the Deuel County commissioners and tell them the RIGHT THING TO DO is to get Hutch his insurance back!
Call the commissioners!
Jerome Radke, (308) 889-5160
Steven Fischer (308) 874-2404
William Klingman (308) 874-3290
Deuel County website