For months, police union President Gary Delagnes has warned that if The City didn’t extend a pension “double-dipping” program, hundreds of eligible cops would rush to enroll in it and leave the department dangerously short-staffed in the near future.
On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors allowed the Deferred Retirement Option Program to sunset June 30, and Delagnes’ warnings have already come true — at least for himself.
Delagnes enrolled this month in DROP, a program that he helped author for the ballot. Delagnes, a 32-year department veteran, now will continue to earn a salary and premium pay of more than $130,000 while also receiving his pension in a special interest-bearing account that he can collect upon retirement.
San Francisco police officers who retire at age 55 or older with 30 years of service receive 90 percent of their pay as a pension for the rest of their lives.
While he confirmed entering the program on Tuesday, Delagnes would not comment any further on his decision.
“It’s a personal decision that affects his family,” Police Officers Association Vice President Kevin Martin said.
DROP allows retirement-age police officers to continue working at the department while collecting their pensions in a special account. A recent report by the city controller found the program costs taxpayers about $6 million a year more than hiring new officers through police academies.
Voters approved the program three years ago in part to keep veteran officers around to help guide a wave of younger officers that had entered the department at about the same time.
Delagnes, a 32-year department veteran, has not worked the streets since becoming the union head in 2004. Martin said Delagnes plans on doing more police work in the two years before he retires.
Speculation among police union members that Delagnes would enter the program has been a major source of conflict at the Police Officers Association. In a meeting last week, Delagnes announced his decision, which was reported to union members by POA representative John Evans.
In his written minutes of the meeting, Evans said he believed Delagnes “set up DROP in such a way that he could do it.”
Delagnes fired back with a letter to Evans.
“You allege I wrote the DROP to protect my own position in the POA,” Delagnes wrote. “Again, a completely false allegation that you have dreamed up in your own mind.”
190 Officers currently enrolled in DROP who will retire within three years
204 Officers not yet enrolled but are eligible to do so
$6M Projected annual cost increase for retirement benefits under DROP
June 30 Date of program termination
Source: San Francisco Employee Retirement System