CLIENT ALERT: Please read this special message.

Female Officers Tell of Hardship - Cops Suing Suffolk PD say Limited-Duty Policy While They Were Pregnant Jeopardized Them Financially

NEWSDAY - Jennifer Sinco Kelleher

Suffolk Police Officer Christine Blauvelt went without vacations and took little sick time so she could save up to devote months to her infant after giving birth, she testified yesterday. Blauvelt and five other women are suing the county police department in federal court, charging discrimination against pregnant cops.

Because of a change in department policy, her plans for motherhood were wrecked, she said.

*           *           *

During cross-examination by Assistant County Attorney Chris Termini, Blauvelt, 39, said the policy will prevent her from having a third child as she had planned. She said she wouldn't be able to afford to take the 18 months of unpaid maternity time the department provides.

*           *           *

Officer Sandra Lochren, 37, also said the policy put her in financial distress. She said she took 8 1/2 months of unpaid time after giving birth in 2001.

"But what you really wanted was to be paid for the privilege of staying home to rear your child," Termini said. Lochren said she wanted to pay her bills.

What Lochren and the other women found unfair was that there seemed to be exceptions made for male officers who were not able to patrol because of non-work related matters.

Retired Officer Sarah MacDermott, 39, testified that she knew of three male officers who didn't have to work on patrol, but didn't have line-of-duty injuries, after the policy went into effect.

*           *           *