Former Nassau Police Commissioner Thomas Dale -- suffering from cancer linked to his service at Ground Zero -- has been approved for a tax-free disability pension from New York City worth about $199,000 a year, police sources said.
Dale, 64, of Oyster Bay, has been undergoing chemotherapy for several years to treat the disease, which a panel of New York City doctors recently deemed related to his exposure to toxic materials following the Sept. 11, 2001, World Trade Center attacks.
Dale orchestrated initial patrol operations at Ground Zero, when he was one of the first senior law enforcement officials on the scene, police have said.
Roy Richter, the head of Dale's old union, said the ex-commissioner was exposed to numerous cancer-causing toxins after the attacks and his benefits are well-deserved.
"The disability law is one way the city acknowledges Chief Dale's heroism and compensates him for the years of chemotherapy he has endured," said Richter, president of the NYPD Captains Endowment Association. "I pray he recovers his health and has the ability to live a life in comfort."
Dale, who served in the NYPD for more than 40 years, could not be reached for comment. It is unclear what type of cancer he has or when he was diagnosed.
Nicole Giambarrese, acting general counsel for the New York City Police Pension Fund, which oversees awarding of NYPD pensions, said in a written response to a Freedom of Information Law request that Dale was approved Wednesday for an "Accident Disability Retirement by the Police Pension Fund Board."
The fund "has not yet calculated the new amount of his pension, as he was just approved," she said.
Several major health studies of 9/11 responders have found an increased risk of cancer. One federally sponsored study of almost 21,000 World Trade Center rescue and recovery workers found a 15 percent overall increased risk of cancer. The incidences of thyroid, prostate and blood, lymph and soft-tissue cancers were much higher than expected, according to the study.
The study, published in 2013, was conducted from 2001 to 2008 by researchers associated with the federally funded World Trade Center Health Program.
Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano forced Dale from the commissioner's post after prosecutors found he directed officers to arrest a witness in a politically charged election-year case. Dale had left his job as chief of personnel for the NYPD to take over the top job in Nassau in January 2012. He was one of only eight three-star chiefs in the NYPD at the time.
High-ranking NYPD retirees who developed cancer and other health problems after serving at Ground Zero have routinely been approved for pensions giving them three-quarters of their salary tax-free. Some lower-ranking officers have spent years battling the city for disability pensions they say they deserve for health problems caused by toxic dust at Ground Zero.
Officers who retire with regular, non-disability pensions receive half their salaries each year and are taxed.