Detroit Police officers consider retiring over bankruptcy cuts

(WXYZ) - The future of public safety in Detroit is up in the air as Detroit Police officers ponder retiring much sooner than expected.

Hundreds of officers eligible to retire could be swayed by the outcome of Detroit's bankruptcy. Last Friday, both Detroit Police Officers Association and Detroit Fire Fighters Association filed formal objections to Detroit's plan of adjustment with bankruptcy court.

Now, we know a lot more about why.

On the front lines, Detroit Police are spending their days and nights battling crime against incredible odds.
But just as crime stats are improving, the head of the department's largest union representing cops says they won't accept what's been offered to them from the city during bankruptcy.

Even worse, since the city has already reached deals with retiree unions, more officers could be leaving by July 1 rather than choosing to wait and see what happens in collective bargaining and terms imposed by a bankruptcy judge in a cram down.

"We have a lot of seasoned police officers eligible to retire looking at cuts in their pension upwards of $400 a month so their hands are tied," says DPOA President Mark Diaz.  

Diaz says pay cuts and pension and benefit reductions offered are too severe.

Also, a drop program that's enticed officers eligible to retire to work longer by providing additional benefits is also part of collective bargaining.

Former Chief of Police Ralph Godbee knows this issue better than anyone. He's negotiated with unions before.

"These officer have been working 2 to 3 years under a 10 percent pay cut in a very busy city where they are under compensated," said Godbee. "I think it's reasonable to take that normal 140, 150 officers per year attrition, maybe extend that to 200, 250. I don't think it's unreasonable at all to think there would be a spike in retirement." 

"You can't replace experience and the experience our officers in Detroit have," said Diaz. 

The bankruptcy trial is scheduled for July. If the unions and emergency manager can't come to terms, then a judge will impose terms.


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