California Police Chief- Fall 2013 - Page 4

is all counted toward benefits, there’s now a cap on those benefits. The fact that there’s a cap when there never was one before is going to fundamentally limit our ability to recruit and retain the best employees. More importantly, the cap is going to be seen as a barrier for our most talented people when it comes time for them to decide to seek promotion. We think the cap will be an obstacle that will discourage some officers from seeking leadership positions. This cap will force them to decide if they want to remain officers or sergeants or take on additional responsibility and exposure to organizational challenges while accepting a hard limit on their ultimate retirement benefit. Q. So what are you and other law enforcement leaders doing about this? Pension Reform’s Unintended Consequences ‘May prove to be one of the most significant changes to the profession in this generation’ With Gov. Jerry Brown’s pension reform act set to go into effect Jan. 1, law enforcement officials are mobilizing to remedy some of the changes they believe will have a negative impact on recruitment, the ability to retain the best and brightest, and efforts to keep crime rates down. Among these changes are a cap on the salary which will be used to calculate pension benefits for new employees at $132,120 (increased each year by a set inflator), and raising the retirement age for new employees seeking full benefits to 57, from 50 — a change that comes with a reduction in the maximum-benefit formula. Also, Gov. Brown’s reforms in AB340 call for new public-safety employees to contribute at least half of the cost of their pension system’s normal costs, up to 12% of their salary.  | Behind The Badge BTB-Magazine-Fall2012.indd 6-7 Scott Seaman, chief of police of Los Gatos and president of the California Police Chiefs Association, fielded some questions about what’s become one of the most significant issues in years to confront law enforcement. Q. Just how big of an issue is pension reform as it relates to law enforcement? A. This pension reform change is a critical issue that may prove to be one of the most significant changes to the profession in this generation, primarily because it resets benefits in such a way that the longterm impact, at this point, can’t be fully gauged. The new law completely changes the structure of what constitutes retirement for the next generation of police officers. As opposed to the current retirement structure, when all the work officers do A. We intend to fight these negative impacts and are going to pursue legislative remedies and work to shape the public dialogue. Because this law was created without meaningful input from law enforcement or other stakeholders, we hope to build a coalition to seek to correct some of these negative impacts. We are now working to fully understand the consequences of these reforms — both actual and unintended and will then forge our long-term strategy to address the impacts. We plan to craft a legislative strategy that will outline, in priority, our specific concerns. For us, the cap on “pensionable salary” of $132,000 is the top issue. We also believe that setting the retirement age for full benefits at 57 is too high; we have argued that it should be set at 55. 57 is simply too old for the dangers and physical demands of the law enforcement profession. Q. Who’s on this coalition that is fighting these reforms? A. We (CalChiefs) are working with our partners throughout the state, including the California State Sheriffs’ Association (CSSA), California Peace Officers Association (CPOA), Peace Officers Research Association of California (PORAC), the California District Attorneys Association (CDAO), and other agencies. We’re also intending to work with labor organizations whose members will definitely be affected by this. Q. How hopeful are you that you will be successful? A. It will be challenging, in part because of the political momentum, which has driven these changes. 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