“I never would have believed my own department/employer would do to me and my family what has been done. Never!”
By Steve Pomper
This haunting realization is a portion of catastrophically injured in the line of duty former Washoe County (NV) Sheriff’s Office (WCSO) Detective Kim Frankel’s response to the question, “What has surprised you the most about any of this employer/workers’ comp system betrayal?”
First, I’ll let Kim brief you on her story about a criminal injuring her while on duty, having her workers’ comp and other benefits delayed or denied for years, and then having her employer treat her like human waste in this heartbreaking YouTube video.
Former Det. Kim Frankel explains her heartbreaking story on YouTube. Link
This week’s installment in the Kim Frankel saga has us wandering a bit from the multiverse of numbers, facts, and dates that Kim has been bombarded with for three and a half years. She says she’s still waiting for Washoe County (WC) and its third-party administrator to provide her with the care doctors (from both sides) recommended she needed after a DUI/Hit & Run suspect injured her in a collision at work in 2020.
She’s still waiting even though those neurologists said Kim needed specific medical treatments within three years to be effective. Otherwise, this would be a lifelong disability (which it looks like it is thanks to WC).
I’ve gotten to know Kim a bit better than these articles have probably conveyed. But our brief interactions have shown me just how remarkable she is, dealing courageously with a disease most of us would be fortunate to merely cope with.
Kim’s situation is tricky to wrap our heads around because this multi-headed, multi-tentacled beast is constantly attempting to drag her under a churning, bureaucratic sea by overwhelming her with constant delays, denials, and legal accusations she must respond to. But who is Kim Frankel, the woman going through this tumult? How is it all affecting her as a human being?
Stormy Sea (Ivan Konstantinovich Aivazovsky, via Wikimedia Commons)
The former cop never imagined an in-the-line-of-duty fight for her life would be with her “Blue family” and that the assault on her would be “Blue on Blue.” At least, as far as it pertains to the sheriff’s office leadership. She said her law enforcement leaders were “the one family I never questioned would have my six.”
We’ve discussed WC’s obvious betrayal of Kim in our previous four articles in this NPA series. Today, let’s learn a little bit about her, from her perspective, and how this devastating diagnosis and malevolent neglect have affected her and her family.
She was born in Los Gatos, California, and “raised primarily on… what used to be a small town, Half Moon Bay.” It was such a small town, she said she was surprised when a McDonald’s open when she was in high school.
An athlete from a young age, her love of athletics began early. She showed horses in 4-H, was an all-star softball player, ran track and field in the Junior Olympics at age eight, and said her “parents had me water skiing before I remember knowing how to swim.” In high school, she played basketball—not her favorite—and ran track and field, competing in the mile, two-mile, and 3200-meter events.
Following high school, Kim became an extraordinary athlete, competing professionally. She “raced snowboards for HOT and NITRO onthe International Snowboard Federation (FIS), including World Cup Slalom and Giant Slalom events.” She then signed with KHS, transitioning to racing mountain bikes in downhill competitions.
She later competed for the German company VAUDE, racing in X-Country events. Kim also raced cyclo-cross in Reno for various companies, including Bicycle Warehouse. At 32, she retired from her professional racing career, but she continued these activities to maintain fitness and have fun with her family. This included her son, who dearly misses doing these activities with his mom (more on that later).
Kim Frankel competing in the Marlette 50K, 2019.
Kim said, “One month, to the day, prior to my accident I completed MURPH…1-mile run, 100 pull ups, 200 pushups, 300 air squats, and another 1-mile run, all with a 20 lb. vest. The summer prior on a whim, I completed the Marlette 50k, placing 3rd woman and 11th overall, and competed in the Festivus CrossFit Games individually and as a team with my husband David, even placing number one individually in the world in an event. Most of my peers did not even know I did these events unless they looked at results via social media like the county’s private investigators did (laughs). The point being, I continued to train my mind and body throughout my career.”
I asked Kim if she was able to work out at all now. She said, “Yes, I currently work out. It’s been a three-and half-year process. Now, with that said, it would be highly unfair to compare me to others suffering from Dystonia. I had an elite athletic mind which I believe gave me an advantage to get to the functioning place I am at now.”
So, why a cop? While most cops have reasons in common for joining the profession, each cop also has very personal, sometimes inexpressible, reasons for making law enforcement a career.
In Kim’s case, not surprisingly for an elite athlete, she relished the adrenaline-boosting excitement of police work. Kim’s dad was also a cop, so, “it was already in my blood,” she said.
She also craved the “mental and physical challenges…” and wanted a “cause bigger than me.” She made protecting and serving people her cause.
So, she prepared for a law enforcement career by returning to school and earning her AA degree (with a criminal justice emphasis) at Truckee Meadows CC. Following graduation, she tested with and was hired by the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office, as a deputy sheriff. Little did she know what mental, physical, and emotional challenges that agency would eventually have in store for her.
And speaking of her agency, I asked Kim how she got along with the sheriff and command staff before her injury. She said she’d always gotten along well with her fellow deputies, command staff, and the sheriff. She added, “At least, I always thought I did.”
She said her hard work earned her coveted assignments in what she described as her “dream job”—being a cop. She started her career assigned to the jail, next in court transport, and later tested for and was assigned to the Community Service Unit. Then, after a stint in the Alternatives to Incarceration Unit, she transferred to patrol.
While in patrol, she earned herself a slot as a field training officer (FTO) (to which only the most highly skilled and immensely qualified officers are assigned—did I mention I was also an FTO?). Anyway, Kim eventually tested for and earned an assignment in the detective division. First in property crimes before moving on to crimes against persons. This unit is where she was assigned, investigating a crimes against children case, when that suspect crashed into her sheriff’s office vehicle.
Deputy Kim Frankel photo on KOLO 8 News interview (screenshot).
How well she did her job is reflected in her many awards. These include:
- The WCSO Bronze Star
- VFW Nevada LEO of the Year
- WCSO Meritorious Unit Medal (MUM) (for her part in a homicide conviction)
Incidentally, Kim added the following anecdote about the latter awards ceremony, describing it as a “funny fact.”
“I received this [MUM] after Washoe County/WCSO’s successful constructive termination of me. You can see the interview on Channel 8. That’s right, I hobbled my twisted disabled ass right into their house, head held high with grace and tact, wearing my Nevada fails workers T-shirt. I even introduced myself to the county manager, who was, let’s just say, not very receptive to my respectful self-introduction.”
Is County Manager Eric Brown ashamed of how he’s handled Kim’s case? I don’t know. He hasn’t provided any comments I’m aware of.
I asked Kim what the most challenging part of her life is now.
“This whole ordeal has been hell upon my family to say the least. I shared part of my son’s written legislative testimony in a prior email to give you [NPA] some insight in his own words of the pain and suffering the county’s malicious acts bestowed upon him.
“I believe it’s important for the world to know the malicious and intentional acts committed upon me by Washoe County, the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office, and CCMSI doesn’t just affect the injured employee (me) it affects the whole family. Especially our innocent children.
“The sheriff, the county, and CCMSI perpetrators stripped my son of feeling safe in his own home. Let me say it again, they took my son’s safe haven away from him. Imagine how confused and scared he was and the lasting effects the turmoil, confusion, and pain placed upon him having private investigators sitting on his home, zooming into our windows, trying to hear my phone calls, following us any and everywhere, sitting at his bus stop, and watching the health of his mother, his protector, his nurturer, his cheerleader, his everything, whom he also snowboarded, mountain biked, ran, CrossFit, and completed adventures with be taken away from him, not to mention their stripping me of my income which had a negative impact upon our children as well.
“The hardest part of my life now is handling the constant duress my family is under because of Washoe County’s continued attacks, litigation, accusations, and slander the county, CCMSI, and their legal team placed upon me and my family. I’m not saying living with Dystonia every day isn’t hell. I hate it. There’s not a day that goes by where I don’t pray to God asking for him to cure me. But I cannot even begin to describe the pain my family and I continue to endure every damned day because of the unnecessary intentional malicious acts placed upon me by the County, WCSO, CCMSI, and their legal team. One would think their making me permanently and painfully incarcerated every day by Dystonia would be cruel enough, but that’s not enough for them.
“I have never been given the opportunity to focus on healing and/or coping with the debilitating effects Dystonia places upon me and my family.”
Let’s pause here and contemplate what she said. Kim did nothing to bring this on herself except serve her community. She was on duty, investigating a sex crime against a child case, when a DUI/Hit & Run suspect rammed her county car, causing the initial injuries that led to several neurologists’ Dystonia diagnoses.
But WC et. al. would rather people believe the injury collision, before which Kim had no symptoms, did not cause the symptoms and diagnoses of Dystonia that followed the injury collision.
This brings us to the heartrending testimony I alluded to earlier from Kim’s teenage son (since he is a minor, we’re protecting his privacy. However, he did give his mother permission to make his grief public).
Referring to NPA Article #4, Kim emailed me, “I shared a technical timeline with you that does not capture the PAIN an officer’s family endures when betrayed by their own. But my son has granted permission (he’s 17 now) for you to convey his pain, in his own words from a child’s perspective, in hopes he helps another officer’s child.”
Kim said, she, union advocate Leslie Bell, and Nevada state Senator Skip Daly would present testimony for changing workers’ comp with SB274. Before she left Oregon to testify, she dropped off her son at school. Immediately after driving away, she received a text from him saying, “I left my testimony on the printer for you.”
Nevada state capitol, Carson City, NV.
She swung by her place to pick up the document before leaving for Carson City, Nevada. Kim said, “What I found and read crushed me!! In honor of my son and his courage, I placed his testimony amongst the rest and hand-delivered it to Nevada Governor Joe Lombardo’s office. The following is just some of my son’s testimony:
“The people that were supposed to back their own had stabbed her in the back on 06/25/20. I didn’t physically lose my mom, but I had been stripped of all the future time i would get to have with my mom mountain biking and snowboarding and all the amazing bonding moments before this had happened. They started to invade our privacy by sending pi to take pictures of my mom 24/7. They were constantly watching us. These people have stripped my mom from me now instead of getting time with me. She is having to deal with these monsters and trying to fight for the other people that don’t have a voice. I am only a child for 3 more years and they have taken prime years that I was supposed to get with my mom, not only that but they have taken the years to come.”
Kim noted, “This is only part of my son’s testimony. Imagine the pain and confusion an officer’s child endures when their hero/safety/stability/security police officer parent is hurt on the job and their own blue family the child believes will protect them attacks them. Stealing our child’s sense of safety and security of their own home. Imagine what catastrophic effects this has upon a child’s mental and physical health. PI’s sitting at their bus stop, following them, documenting, peering into their windows via zoom lenses, following them and their ‘good guy’ ‘police officer’ ‘run to for safety’ parents.”
I asked Kim what about this nightmare had surprised her most. Becoming animated, she said she has been most surprised by how “No one, not one so-called leader, has tried to stop the unlawful, corrupt, unethical, slandering acts that continue to be placed on me and my family because I was injured on the job.”
She notes she’d served “above and beyond,” but she and her family continue in “purgatory” because of WC’s “continuing their quest…whatever that is—my death?”
As far as she knows, Kim said her fellow deputies have stuck by her. She added that publicly showing support for her could bring “retaliation and/or career suicide.” Her closest friends have also stuck by her. And she added it’s been a blessing to meet new “amazing” friends, people she never imagined meeting.
Before wrapping up, I asked Kim if there was anything about her family people should know.
Kim said, “I was scared shitless, and unaware of what was happening to me. On Dec 02, 2020. Dr. Peng told David [husband] and me that my brain was causing Dystonic postures. We had never heard the word ‘Dystonic,’ let alone ‘Dystonia.’ By then, David realized we were on an island all alone. I was in such bad shape, not functioning at all mentally or physically anymore because Dystonia was taking over. The county was not adhering to their own doctors’ medical referrals, etc., so David went into action.
“With private investigators on our house, etc., David made our garage into a physical therapy domain. He assisted me through daily repeated routines; dressing, showering, opening of hands, doing hair and makeup, walking, holding onto things, feeding myself, the basic everyday tasks people don’t even think about doing. David would not allow me to quit! I hated him. At times, I begged him just to let me go. I almost let the depths of pain I felt from being abandoned and betrayed by my own blue family kill me.”
Doctors caring for a patient
A few days later, Kim emailed an additional comment. “I think it’s important for the public to understand and know it’s CCMSI/Washoe County doctors diagnosing me… so not only ‘my doctors.’ Being it’s their selected doctors who they pay to make the diagnosis demonstrates how very serious my diagnosis, recommendations of medical treatment, etc., were since they made the same diagnosis as my doctors did.” Kim believes “Washoe County and CCMSI wanted their doctors to diagnose her with MS, Parkinson’s, cancer, PTSD, anything other [than Dystonia] so they could close the claim.:”
Finally, I asked Kim if there was anything I hadn’t asked about that she wanted people to know about her, her injury, or her general situation.
She said, “What I would like people to know about my family is this. We never wanted, expected, would have believed, or even imagined any of this would happen to us. If we heard about our story, we would have said, ‘Not our department.’ But it did happen in our department—for three years and six months now. What I also want people to know is we are here for you, and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for the support you’ve given us.”
Yes, even with all Kim’s going through, she’s helping others by connecting with retired Lt. Randy Sutton and his The Wounded Blue organization to help LEOs in similar situations.
If anyone’s still counting, at the time I submitted this article, it’s been 1,272 days since Kim was injured and began what would be her fight for what she is lawfully, ethically, and morally entitled. Not coincidentally, it’s also the same number of days (1,272) that her boss, Sheriff Darin Balaam, has yet to contact his now-former deputy to see how she’s doing after suffering her on-duty injuries—in June 2020.
And the lingering question hovering over this travesty remains unanswered. Why?
No one from Washoe County, the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office, CCSMI, or other officials have agreed to requests for comments. The five Washoe County Commissioners also have not responded to a request for comments. But to be fair, it’s the last week before Christmas, so we’ll be sure to report any responses we may receive, in a future article.