Allow me to preface this piece by saying that I hold police officers in the highest esteem for the crappy job they do, dealing with a non stop parade of violent criminals, bloody altercations, obnoxious, disrespectful citizens and wimpy police chiefs that are largely political creatures.
That being said, there are numerous myths related to cops, with regards to death rates and ages that influence pension formulas for cops and their families.
The following was posted recently on HBCF, a community forum on Facebook comprised primarily of Huntington Beach residents.
HB Cops are engaged in ongoing contract negotiations with the City and are attempting to flex their union muscle to oust Rob Handy, who while not my favorite guy in the world due to his hands off approach to illegal immigrants and the homeless, deserves thanks for his willingness to address the pension liability issue in the city.
No doubt the author is the spouse of a cop, one who stands to benefit from generous pension formulas, as the spouses of cops continue to receive the cops pension when he passes away. In fact cursory investigation turned up evidence to support my assertion.
The writer is repeating the pervasive myth that the life expectancy of cops is far less than the average. She cites no facts, but simply repeats what is no doubt published in the HBPOA Union newsletter as “fact”.
A simple check of the CalPers actuarial tables is all that is required to debunk this “fact”.
Many of the figures I will quote are in fact out of date and are taken from the 2009 book “Plunder” by former OCRegister columnist, Steven Greenhut, a book that should be considered required reading for anyone interested in the truth about pension liabilities and the time bomb they represent to every HB Citizen.
Paholski is simply repeating the “findings” of the Police Policy Council, a police advocacy organization, one that cites”job stress and sleep deprivation” and the “high number of Workman’s Comp Claims” among other factors that back up their “findings”.
Many American workers have high stress jobs and suffer from sleep deprivation.
As far as the Workman’s Comp Claims, Cops and Firefighters have long figured out how to game the system, miraculously discovering a disabling injury exactly one year from retirement, thus getting an extra year off and protecting half their pension from taxes.
If Police Officers and firefighters died as early as Paholski States, there would be no unfunded liability problem.
But according to the CalPERS actuary, police and firefighters actually live longer these days, which isn’t surprising given that the earlier people retire and the wealthier they are, the longer they tend to live.
Here is the CalPERS life expectancy data for public safety members (police and fire, which are grouped together by the pension fund):
- If the current age is 55, the retire is expected to live to be 81.4 If male and 85 if female.
- If the current age is 60, the retiree is expected to live to be age 82 if male and 85.5 if female
- If the current age is 65, the retiree is expected to live to be 82.9 if male and 86.1 if female.
Let’s not even talk about the Officers and Firefighters who retire at 50, with the insane “3 percent at 50” rule, a rule that has only boosted the pension crisis into overdrive and accelerated the ticking clock on the Pension time bomb, while officers that retire at 50 go on to start a whole new career in their “retirement “.
Don’t even get me started on all of the “Spiking” scams, referred to by the Unions as “enhancements”… using the final year of employment as the basis,( with that long delayed promotion kicking in, due to the good old boys network) including overtime ( a major cause of that ” sleep deprivation”…) and unused vacation and sick pay in the formula…among other crazy stuff.
Isn’t it bad enough cops actually get paid to put on and take off their uniforms in the bizarre “Donning and Doffing’ Union work rule?
Really? Your kiddin me right?
Greenhut’s observation from “Plunder”…
“Police and Firefighters have an oftentimes tough and dangerous job, but many Americans have oftentimes tough and sometimes dangerous jobs. This needs to be kept in perspective. Public officials need to deal in reality rather than emotionally laden fantasy when considering the public policy ramifications of pensions”.
Let’s examine data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics regarding Fatal Occupational Injuries by Occupation. The following data ranks occupational deaths by Job Description and area:
- Transportation and Material moving – 26%
- Construction and extraction-19%
- Management -11%
- “Other” comprising less than 1 pct.- 9%
- Installation, Maintenance and repair- 7%
- Police and Firefighters- 6%
- Farming, Fishing and Forestry-5%
- Sales and related jobs-5%
- Production Occupations-5%
- Building and grounds Cleaning-5%
- Office and Admin support- 2%
Not quite what you expected?
Now is the time to confront the 500 lb. Gorilla in the room and demand fundamental change from all city employee unions.
It’s time to switch to the defined contribution retirement plans that the public largely receives, and stop the bleeding.
Failure to do so will only result in a slow death to the City’s ability to function, in much the same way that the United Auto Workers bled GM dry, resulting in millions of Americans who held Stock in GM, including many elderly retirees, left with worthless pieces of paper.
Step up City Council. Stop kicking the can down the road.
I will lend you a Sledgehammer, no charge…because that is what it takes to make these guys come to the table and bargain seriously.
Maybe even a flamethrower at this point as the union employees are dug in and refuse to emerge from their protected bunkers to negotiate a realistic solution.
If HBPOA doesn’t like what’s on the table, open up discussions with the Orange County Sheriffs Department & explore alternatives to the strong arm tactics of the Police Union.
It could always be worse. You could be patrolling Santa Ana or Compton.