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Friday, July 8, 2011

DROP Kick: Not So Many Cops Enroll in Double-Dipping Program

Posted By on Fri, Jul 8, 2011 at 4:00 PM


We've written quite a bit about the Deferred Retirement Option Program (DROP), a sweet deal voters awarded police several years back that allowed cops to amass salaries and pensions simultaneously -- and retire with lump sum payments exceeding $400,000.

Despite the quixotic and bizarre attempts of Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi to prolong the program, the Board of Supervisors voted, 10-1, to let it expire on June 30. Police Officers Association boss Gary Delagnes had long predicted a cavalcade of older officers would then run to the program before its sunset date, leading to up to a quarter of the police department exiting en masse (DROP participants must retire after, at most, three years).

That didn't exactly come to pass. The San Francisco Employee Retirement System today released its final DROP numbers. Of around 400 to 500 eligible officers, only around 148 opted to join the program in its waning days. These totals, Delagnes admits, are "low."

Along with the 114 officers participating in the program in April -- when a controller's audit declared it a fiscal albatross around the city's neck -- the new enrollees boost the final number of cops in the program to 262.

Delagnes had expected that total to soar past 300. Considering that older cops who aren't enrolled in DROP will also retire every year, the POA head expects some 400 officers to be gone within three years. This, he says, is just the number he was predicting in recent weeks.

Again, however, not exactly. Delagnes told SF Weekly in April that upward of 500 cops might retire just via DROP -- not including regular retirees. He told C.W. Nevius the following in February:

Delagnes says the force has 490 officers with 25 years of service or more and 370 with 30 years or more. "In two or three years you could lose nearly 500 cops," Delagnes said. "And that's in addition to those who just retire without going into DROP."

Delagnes now says he never really expected that many cops to retire. That's just the upper limit of what was possible. And, hey, if you're going to imply a dystopian future in which crooks menace the streets of San Francisco with (even more) impunity, then it's best to go with the upper limits.

In any event, Delagnes says the task of replacing some 262 veteran cops in the course of three years -- when we have no scheduled police academy classes in the foreseeable future -- is "a devastating forecast."

This time, he's exactly right.


Copy of DROP Demographic and Activity Report as of 06302011.xls

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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