The Los Angeles Times reports that Mayor Eric Garcetti and key members of the City Council have agreed to give police officers raises of up to 5% with no change to a controversial retirement program that pays veteran cops and firefighters nearly double at the end of their careers.
A new, one-year contract overwhelmingly approved by police union members this week gives pay increases of up to 5%.
The deal places no new conditions on the Deferred Retirement Option Plan, which allows veteran officers to collect their salaries and pensions simultaneously for up to five years before they retire.
The DROP program was approved by voters in 2001 with a promise that it would keep veteran officers on the job a few years longer with no additional cost to the city.
A Times investigation published last month found the program had issued more than $1.6 billion in early pension payments since 2002, and nearly half of DROP participants in the last decade entered the program and then took injury leaves at twice their usual pay; typically for bad backs, sore knees, carpal tunnel syndrome and other ailments that routinely afflict aging bodies.
More than 1,200 police and firefighters took such leaves, the Times found; their average absence was 10 months, and hundreds stayed out for more than a year.