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November 05, 2001
NYPD's $1.7B OT Tab Could Spur Retirements
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ause of the attack on the World Trade Center and resulting security concerns, the New York City Police Department expects to pay up to $1.7 billion in overtime this fiscal year, more than five times the record overtime it paid last year, according to The New York Times.

That will have serious implications for the city's budget, though large federal reimbursements are expected.

The big worry is that the hard-pressed department will see accelerated retirements of veteran officers who stand to qualify for larger pensions because of exceptionally large salaries this year.

Even before Sept. 11, the NYPD had trouble keeping with retirements, the Times reports.

Now, with the city is about to pay many of its veteran officers an average of $50,000 in overtime in FY2002, there will be a huge incentive for them to retire while pensions reflect the unusually large earnings.

"Anyone contemplating retirement before, this overtime will definitely make them decide on retiring," said Joseph Maccone, who managed the department's pension unit last year and now works for the police officers' union.

Through September, 1,677 of the city's 40,000 police officers retired, up 75 percent from the same period last year.

Maccone told the Times there were early indications that 500 more officers filed for retirement in October, up from 161 in October 2000.

"Everybody that was on the fence, now can't afford to stay," said one Manhattan detective who plans to retire in several months. He said he would make $90,000 this year, far more than the $75,000 he anticipated. "I have to get out. I'll never see this kind of money ever again."

Officers who serve 20 years in the job are entitled to pensions worth half of what they earned in their last 12 months with the department. Between now and next September, officials told the newspaper, the average patrol officer with 20 years of experience, who typically earns $64,000 a year with holiday pay and limited overtime, may make $110,000 or more.

For pension purposes, an officer's salary in his final year can rise only by 20 percent from the prior year, so only some of the additional earnings would be factored into the pension.

At the same time, some officers have told colleagues that, as tempting as the larger pension looks, they are worried about shrinking job opportunities in the private sector as the economy slows. And even if they want to go, only about 3,500 officers are eligible to retire with a full pension for 20 or more years in the job, officials said.

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