Henry Groepper quit as a Portland, Or., police officer on disability, then sued. Detective Jim Bellah left on disability, then retired. Cliff Madison is a Portland precinct commander. The Portland Tribune reports that each has been diagnosed with a long-term illness they believe is related to exposure in the 1980s to chemicals used to make methamphetamine.
Until May 1987, Portland police did not wear protective gear beyond rubber gloves to enter meth labs. At least four officers who worked in meth labs have developed some form of cancer. A total of 18 officers have had meth-related disability claims approved by the city's Fire and Police Disability and Retirement Fund. Only one of the officers who contracted cancer applied for and received disability. Though no medical study definitively links meth-making chemicals with cancer or long-term respiratory illnesses, California cops have established a precedent for seeking benefits. Retired San Bernardino County narcotics Detective Mike Howell won a five-figure settlement, a pension equal to half his salary, and full lifetime medical benefits after he contracted a severe respiratory illness in 1996.