City police to benefit from Kentucky pension law

City police departments say now they can keep your family safer and save you money because of a bill the governor of Kentucky signed into law this month.

City police departments can hire retired officers and not worry about paying into a second retirement. Kentucky law says that officers are not allowed to double dip on retirement pensions. With this new bill, police departments say everyone wins.

Whether it’s in at the desk or out in the cruiser, Benton police officer Steve Robinson says he can not sit still. "I didn’t know if I was going to get back into law enforcement," he says. 

Robinson worked as a police officer in Murray for decades, retired, and is back enforcing the law in Benton. He’s already drawing one pension, but a second? Robinson says he just wanted to go back to work.  "After the honey-dos are done, you get kind of bored, and the opportunity arose to go back to law enforcement," he says.

Benton Police Chief Tracy Watwood says with police work, experience is invaluable. "We want to get the most qualified, the most educated and a police officer that’s going to do a good job for the community," he says.

Watwood says it’s not just experience that matters. It’s also his bottom line. If Benton city hired a retired officer verses someone else, the city would save an estimated $24,000 per year from that one pension.

When departments can hire officers like Robinson and save money, everyone gets what they want.

Sen. Danny Carroll was one of the bill’s sponsors. Carroll says the concept already applied to county and state law enforcement agencies. He says the law gives all agencies the same opportunity.

"It’s like having an additional workforce out there if there are folks who are retired and you have some six to seven people who retired at the same time. It takes almost a full year to get a new officer hired get them through the academy," Carroll says. 

Pension payments make up 32 percent of the Benton Police Department’s budget.

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