Peace Officers Research Association of California > Press Release: The Truth About California Peace Officer Pensions

Press Release: The Truth About California Peace Officer Pensions

California Employees Are Not to Blame for California’s Current Financial Crisis. We Are Experiencing the Worst Economy in Our Lifetime — 80 Years. Wall Street is to Blame for California’s Current Economic Emergency.

Public employees, including public safety, are working together to find sustainable solutions. The country is recovering from the worst economic decline since the Great Depression. It is important that we don’t employ a knee-jerk reaction that will cause undue harm to the pension system. We need to work together at the bargaining table to find a manageable resolution.

Even if the Governor Could Fire Every State Employee Under His Control — Roughly 230,000 Workers — This Still Would Not Balance California’s Budget. Roughly 70% of the State General Fund Flows Out to Local Government and Schools.

A One-Size-Fits-All Approach Will Not Work to Solve California’s Budget Problem.

Our defined-benefit pension systems were designed to be flexible and to evolve over time.

Each local employer and each pension system evolves through negotiations between the employers and their employees at the local bargaining table — we need to respect the give and take.

Retirement Issues Should be Addressed through Collective Bargaining, Not by a State-Imposed Mandate.

Being a Peace Officer in California is a Tough Job. A Secure Retirement is critical to California’s Ability to Recruit and Retain Peace Officers.

Last year, four Oakland peace officers were killed during a routine traffic stop, this is unfortunately becoming all too common.

California peace officers wear bullet-proof vests, carry Tasers and must be armed every day on the job. Law enforcement is not a profession for the faint-hearted.

Remember, because of the everyday dangers of the job, it is difficult to recruit peace officers.

It is not easy to become a peace officer:

  • Entrance into the police academy requires passing written exams for qualifications, being grilled by an interview panel, a polygraph and an extensive background check. Not just anyone can meet this criteria.
  • The police academy includes intense physical training, similar to that of military bootcamp, encompassing all aspects of the job, including physical, mental, legal and tactical skills. Cadets must also pass a rigorous physical exam before graduating.
  • The academy training is 26 weeks, filled with pop quizzes and exams, quarter exams and final exams. Exams cover California law, stress management, defensive tactics and much more.
  • If you pass the academy, you are assigned to a duty station and 12 weeks of field training. Officers must go through an extensive probationary period, lasting 18 months. If you fail this, you lose your job.

Peace Officers Repeatedly Give up Higher Wages for Secure Retirement Benefits.

Most peace officers do not receive Social Security. Many California peace officers pay into Social Security, as well as pensions, but since they receive a government pension they automatically lose part of that Social Security benefit. Therefore, some officers are contributors to Social Security, though in many cases, not recipients. The other officers simply do not receive Social Security benefits upon retirement, leaving them to depend solely on their pensions.

According to CalPERS:

  • The average monthly retirement allowance of all CalPERS public employee retirees is $2,101.
  • 78% of all CalPERS public employee retirees receive less than $36,000 per year. This by no means can be considered lavish.

PORAC Believes That Abuses in the System Should be Curbed Without Attacking the Retirement Security of the Majority of Hard-Working Peace Officers.

  • Less than 1% of all public employees receive retirements that are $100,000 or more.
  • PORAC believes that abuses in the system should be stopped.