Mike “Jersey” Kane, a sergeant with the Stallings police department in Union County, was chasing down a suspect in two church robberies last July when the suspect turned on Kane, grabbed the officer's baton and beat him in the head. The suspect was arrested, but Kane suffered a serious concussion and brain injuries.
Eventually, Kane returned to work, but because his doctors do not want him working nights, his job may be in jeopardy. The Stallings town council is slated to decide tonight whether to create a days-only community officer position. Staff writer Jennifer Rothacker spoke with Kane, 38. Here are excerpts from that interview:
Q: How are you doing physically?
I've made a lot of progress, done everything the doctors have told me to do, all the rehab classes. Eleven months have gone by and I still have some limitations. I have problems with muscle cramps, sleep deprivation, fatigue and headaches. I have a lot of problems with neck and shoulder pain.
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Q: What's your job at work these days?
I have to keep a routine, a day shift. The doctors won't let me work a rotating shift or night shift for fear of getting my routine mixed up. Another sergeant has been kind enough and volunteered to work nights so I can be patrol supervisor on days. I feel bad about it; it's not fair to them, they've got families. It can't go on like that forever. The town has given me until July 22, a year after the incident happened, to work this temporary shift.
Q: Could you go back to nights by that date?
The doctors have said that goal is not reachable. It might be in the future, but they're not ready to release me now to do that. Chief (Larke) Plyler has requested a daytime community affairs/community resources position. Basically doing what I'm doing on the side now.
Q: What are the chances the council will approve that request?
They have tentatively approved one position – a patrol position (that will sometimes work nights). Chief Plyler has requested this additional one. We have no idea if they'll approve it.
Q: What will you do if you don't get this job?
I've been looking at other options. I would love to stay in public safety. I've been in it for 18 years, it's all I've ever done. I've dedicated my whole life to it … I've helped build this department. I feel I have an obligation to the citizens of Stallings.
Q: You received so much support from the community after your injuries. How much was raised on your behalf?
A poker run raised $11,000 or $12,000. The residents of Callonwood, a neighborhood in Stallings, invited us to a Christmas dinner and presented us with a check of $6,000. We were totally blown away.
Q: Have you considered leaving law enforcement because of this?
The people that come out from Stallings and supported me, that is why I do my job every day. The people whose property that man had that night, the support they gave me … if I had a crystal ball, I would do the exact same thing. That's who I am and that's my job.
Jennifer Rothacker: firstname.lastname@example.org