New York Overtime Pay Could Spur Retirement


By:   Unknown author
New York Daily News, December 17, 2001


NEW YORK -- City police and fire departments plan to pay their top officers in cash -- instead of time off -- for World Trade Center overtime since the Sept. 11 attacks.

The program could trigger an even larger wave of police retirements because it could lead to higher pensions, sources said.

Fire Commissioner Thomas Von Essen came up with the plan to reward his 350 battalion and deputy chiefs with a cash payout for half the overtime they earned from Sept. 11 to Nov. 10.

"It was important to recognize the extraordinary work that our chiefs were involved in," said First Deputy Fire Commissioner Michael Regan.

About 750 police captains, deputy inspectors, inspectors and deputy chiefs -- who also were contractually limited to getting compensatory time -- had to be included in the deal.

The cost of the plan is still being calculated, but the federal government will pick up the tab, officials said.

The payout has serious implications for the NYPD, which already faces a huge retirement exodus. About 3,000 officers of all ranks -- more than ever before -- have filed for retirement this year.

Because pensions are calculated based on half of what the retiree has made in the last 12 months on the job, the thousands of extra dollars will make retirement attractive for at least 200 more high-ranking officers who have 20 years on the job.

Joseph Maccone, a pension consultant to the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, said the cash overtime will be decisive for those fence-sitters eligible to retire.

"I can tell you a friend of mine who is an inspector who was not planning to retire before told me [Friday] he is putting in his papers next week," Maccone said.

He said the inspector is due $10,800 in World Trade Center overtime, which will pump up his pension by more than $5,000 a year for the rest of his life.

"This really compounds the problem poor Ray Kelly is going to face," Maccone said, referring to the incoming police commissioner.

John Driscoll, president of the Captains Endowment Association, said paying his members the cash is only fair.

"There were sergeants making more money than captains," he said. "The rank was getting demoralized, and the city recognized that."

NYPD spokesman Thomas Antenen acknowledged the overtime payout may spur retirements but said the main issue was "rewarding people who served above and beyond the call of duty."


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