Report Claims that L.A. Police and fire Retirement plan is more Expensive than Promised
In 2001, Los Angeles voters approved a controversial retirement program that pays Los Angeles police and firefighters their salaries and pensions simultaneously at the end of their careers that was promised to be “cost neutral.” However, a study earlier last year found that more than 1,200 participants who entered the Deferred Retirement Option Plan (DROP) had taken injury leaves at essentially twice their usual pay and that the program is not “cost neutral.” The findings of the study actually contradict years of claims by city officials that the program doesn’t cost taxpayers any extra money. Previous reports on DROP did not take into account the added expense of cops and firefighters collecting two large checks, salary and pension, while out on extended leaves. This was the experience that other California cities that experimented with DROP programs had and they eventually abandoned the programs due to the expense.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the average absence from those leaves was 10 months. However, hundreds took over a year off, typically for ailments that afflict aging bodies regardless of profession such as carpal tunnel syndrome, bad backs, and sore knees. The city’s administrative code gives elected officials a chance to eliminate the program or renegotiate its terms with leaders of the police and firefighters unions if it is determined that DROP is not “cost neutral.” The Times found that a married couple, a police captain and a detective, joined DROP then filed claims for carpal tunnel syndrome and other cumulative ailments and took about two years off. The couple collected almost $2 million while in the program and spent some of their time off recovering at their condo in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. We will have to wait and see what the city decides to do about the program.