Chesterton Tribune

 

 

Police Commission: Raise mandatory retirement age to 65

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By KEVIN NEVERS

Since 1977, the Chesterton Police Department has had an established mandatory retirement age of 60.

The CPD is the only municipal department in Chesterton to have any mandatory retirement age and one of only three PDs in Porter County to have one. The other two--the Portage Police Department and the Indiana State Police--have both set their retirement age at 65.

The problem, if you’re a 60-year-old ex-CPD copper forced onto the street: for the next five years, until you hit the Medicare age of 65, you have to pony up for your own health insurance. Or just go without.

Three experienced CPD officers have retired within the last four years: Sgt. Fred Shivalec in May 2010, at age 58; Capt. George Nelson in April 2012, at 59; and Lt. Dave Adkins in March 2013, at 58.

Shivalec, Nelson, and Adkins, however, may be the last CPD officers ever to face this potential predicament, if the Town Council were to act on the Police Commission’s recommendation to raise the department’s mandatory retirement age to 65.

Members Brandon Kroft and Alex Rodriguez voted in favor of that recommendation at the commission’s meeting on Wednesday. The commission currently has one seat open, with the recent resignation of Craig Stafford.

Police Chief Dave Cincoski--himself 45 and in no imminent danger of being forced into retirement--brought the issue of a older mandatory retirement age to the commission in the form of a three-page memo. In that memo Cincoski notes that the Town Council codified the current mandatory age in an ordinance enacted in 1977, and that there is nothing in the ordinance itself nor any documents in CPD files to indicate what council members may have been thinking when they set that age at 60.

In any case, Cincoski makes his case for a higher retirement age on the following grounds:

* No other Town of Chesterton municipal department has a mandatory retirement age, he states, and a police officer’s job “is no less or more physically demanding than” a firefighter’s or a Street Department laborer’s. Those departments’ “less restrictive requirements should be considered for Police Department employees.”

* State statue sets a mandatory retirement age for sworn officers at 70.

* “If health issues, or the potential for them, were ever cited back in 1977, I would offer that advances in medical technology in the last 37 years offer healthier and longer life spans for most individuals,” Cincoski states.

* “Presently, at 60, an officer would have to retire and find alternate employment with insurance benefits, pay for insurance out of retirement pension funds, or risk living without insurance until reaching the age of qualification for Medicare,” Cincoski states. He adds, “At present-day rates, a retiring police officer earns a pension of $21,330 after 20 years of service. Present-day insurance rates for medical coverage range from $800 to $1,600 per month, nearly to more than half a retiree’s pension.”

* “The years of experience of a veteran employee are an asset to any department,” Cincoski also states.

* There are no CPD officers “near or at the present mandatory retirement age,” Cincoski concludes, “nor is this request made on behalf of any single officer.”

Rodriguez voiced his support for a higher mandatory retirement age immediately. Kroft, while noting that there are “certain valid reasons for the age restriction,” said that the “inequity” which it actually creates--the “gap in coverage”--outweighs those reasons.

Rodriguez and Kroft then voted to endorse a new mandatory retirement age of 65.

That recommendation now goes before the Town Council.

 

 

Posted 4/18/2014