“Color Me Gone” – Retirement eligible officers plan for earlier retirements as House weighs raising FERS contributions and axing SOC/SEC supplemental

House seeks to cut the budget deficit, by increasing FERS retirement contributions and eliminating Social Security supplemental payments

Currently, the proposed House Budget wants to cut the deficit, by increasing FERS retirement contributions and eliminating Social Security supplemental payments. The budget doesn’t specify the proposed contribution increase or indicate if the supplement elimination will apply to all future retirees or only new hires. The House Oversight Committee will decide that during the coming months.

(See article link below for additional details)

Implementing the proposed cuts will lead to massive retirements

Experience has demonstrated that cutting pension benefits for police officers will cause a dramatic spike in retirements. Recent cuts to the Dallas, Texas police retirement system resulted in numerous unanticipated retirements.

(See article link below for details)

Increasing contributions and eliminating supplemental payments will have dangerous consequences

Eliminating the supplemental payment for current Federal law enforcement personnel will spark a mass retirement of the most experienced Federal law enforcement officers. This will significantly degrade the operational readiness of many agencies with critical National Security missions. Agencies will lose their most knowledgeable and capable workers at a time when our Nation faces increasing threats. Unfortunately, the hard reality of a $1000 + (Depending on years of service) a month pension cut will compel those who can retire to do so before the law is enacted.

Additionally, increasing FERS retirement contributions for current personnel will be an important factor that will negatively affect retirement decisions. The taking of an additional 4% out of paychecks will be seen for what it is, a pay cut, and will not encourage retention.

Hiring needed officers and agents will be increasingly difficult

Cutting active and retired pay will increase the already difficult task of recruitment and retention of law enforcement personnel. Federal agencies, particularly in major metropolitan areas, will be at a disadvantage with most state and local law enforcement agencies. Nationwide agencies are having problems hiring and retaining officers because of economic, budgetary, and operational environment issues.

(For details see links below)

Effect on United States Park Police

The U. S. Park Police (USPP) is at least 250 officers short of safe staffing levels established in 1999 by an independent staffing study. Currently, there are about 80 to 100 USPP officers eligible to retire.

If the retirement supplements are cut for active officers, here is what’s likely to happen:

  • Pretty much everyone in the Captain to Chief ranks would be gone
  • A significant portion of the Lieutenants would be gone
  • 1/4 +/- of the Sergeants would be gone
  • Virtually all of the most experienced Investigators and Detectives would be gone
  • The USPP Aviation Unit would lose all of its most experienced pilots and the unit would essentially be grounded
  • There would be a significant loss of experienced Patrol Officers, who are the foundation of the force. This would severely hamper the force’s ability to train new recruits.
  • About half the Motorcycle Unit would be gone
  • 1/4 – 1/3 of the Horsemounted Patrol Unit would be gone

Great care must be taken when considering these pay and benefits cuts, the stakes are high. If these changes are made law the USPP could soon be over 350 officers short of safe staffing levels established in 1999.

“There are no solutions. There are only trade-offs.”

― Thomas SowellA Conflict Of Visions: Ideological Origins of Political Struggles

One of many “Color Me Gone” songs: