Created with voter approval in 2008 to encourage veteran cops to stay on the force during a time of budget shortfalls that cut Police Academy classes, the Deferred Retirement Option Program, or DROP, allowed cops over 50 years old with at least 25 years’ experience to begin collecting pension benefits in addition to regular pay. To be eligible, officers had to be full-time sworn police and not be mentally or physically disabled.
That requirement runs afoul of various state and federal laws prohibiting discrimination based on disabilities. Nine ex-cops placed on desk duty following injuries or mental breakdowns filed a lawsuit against The City in federal court in 2012 after they were denied entry into DROP.
The City’s settlement with former officers Donald Calkin, Gordon Clark, Silvia David, Sally Foster, John Higgins, Janet Lacampagne, Kenneth Sanchez, Colleen Sullivan and Lee Sullivan is set to be approved by the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.
Officers are not considered to be on full active duty if they are physically unable to do the job, including making arrests. However, in the lawsuit, the plaintiffs argued that other officers allowed into DROP were also in jobs that didn’t require them to make arrests. Before DROP closed in 2011, 341 officers enrolled. As of August, DROP cost San Francisco $58 million. There are still 73 officers enrolled in DROP, which ends next year.