Police Today, Gone Tomorrow
"Twenty-five years ago was the twenty-five-year mark from another big hiring in the Seventies," Baird explains. "In addition, that was when all the Bill Clinton cop grants were coming out, so everybody was adding staff as well as replacing the people walking out the door. Now we're having the perfect storm where everybody is eligible to leave at the same time."
The potential for mass retirements was front and center at the end of 2016, when the lame-duck state legislature flirted with a law that would have lowered pensions by excluding overtime pay when the amount is calculated. While it was under consideration, "we had fifteen, sixteen people file for retirement," Baird says. "And we said, 'Look, if nothing happens in lame duck, we'll let you pull your papers.' "
Nothing did happen, and "thank goodness all but a few of them wound up pulling their papers," says Baird. "It would have crippled us to have that many walking out the door all at the same time!"
Baird is the third chief to occupy the corner office in the Justice Center with its commanding view of downtown. The first was Barnett Jones, who kept his blinds drawn for security. The second was John Seto, who opened the shades.
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