wo Democratic state lawmakers introduced a bill that would strip police officers of their state pension benefits if fired for issues involving “serious” misconduct.
State Sen. Luis Sepulveda (D-The Bronx) and Assemblywoman Diana Richardson (D-Brooklyn) introduced the legislation last month that would bar members of law enforcement from receiving retirement benefits if they are fired in cases involving misconduct or malfeasance, or resign or retire in the middle of misconduct investigation in connection to their job.
Cops are already eligible to lose pensions if convicted of a felony, but the pols listed several “improper” or “illegal actions” including fabrication of evidence, repeated use of excessive force, acceptance of a bribe or fraud.
“Systematic racism, inadequate training, and abuse of power have all contributed to the scourge of police brutality that has torn apart families and communities across the county. We are at a pivotal moment for anti-racist and police reform, and it is clear that law enforcement officers must face greater accountability,” Sepulveda said in a statement.
“Law enforcement officers take an oath to protect and serve. They are supposed to be our trusted partners. However, when that trust is broken, there must be consequences. What this bill does is add a level of accountability by terminating the retirement benefits of law enforcement officers who take it upon themselves to act outside of their training and the law,” added Richardson.
Right now, officers may qualify for and obtain their benefits regardless of a voluntary or involuntary termination.
However, some cases have resulted in the loss of a cop’s pension — like NYPD cop Daniel Pantaleo, who was fired in 2019 for using a chokehold that led to the 2014 death of Eric Garner.
He was dismissed without his pension benefits but was able to recoup all contributions following 13 years of service. Pantaleo later sued to get back his pension and job, and that case is still pending.
“This bill is mind-blowing hypocrisy: Police officers’ retirement benefits could be stripped away based on mere allegations of misconduct, while state legislators who are formally censured for serious misconduct would still get to keep theirs,” seethed Police Benevolent Association Union President Pat Lynch, responding to the lawmakers’ new bill.
“Senator Sepulveda should cut out his anti-cop grandstanding and focus on his constituents. Eighty people were shot in the Bronx last month, more than double last June’s total. What is he doing about that?” he added.
The state Legislature also passed a slew of police reform bills last month later signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo that were long-stalled in Albany.
Among them include the ‘Eric Garner Chokehold Act’ that criminalizes police use of chokeholds, a repeal of the controversial ‘50a’ law that now makes an officer’s disciplinary records subject to Freedom of Information Laws, and the creation of a special investigative unit within the state Attorney General’s office charged with handling cases concerning deaths involving a civilian and police officer.
Earlier this week the City Council and Mayor de Blasio cemented $1 billion worth of budget cuts to the NYPD’s $6 billion budget in response to demands by activists, lawmakers and the general populace to trim police influence following the death of George Floyd.