LAPD Chief’s Sweetheart Retirement Deal Under Scrutiny
Before his hiring as chief of the Los Angeles Police Department in June, Michel Moore was able to collect a hefty payment of $1.27 million from the city by retiring from his job as chief of operations -- and then almost immediately returning to the post.
The Los Angeles Times explains:
Moore, 58, received the money thanks to his enrollment in the city’s Deferred Retirement Option Plan, or DROP, which pays veteran cops and firefighters their pensions, in addition to their salaries, for the last five years of their careers.
The extra pension payments go into a special account that the employee receives at the end of the five years — so long as they formally retire.
Moore said in an interview that the plan to have him retire and then return almost immediately to work was proposed by former Chief Charlie Beck and approved by Mayor Eric Garcetti.
Mayor Eric Garcetti, left, approved a plan to have Michael Moore retire and then return almost immediately to work, the police chief says.
A few months after he returned to work, Garcetti appointed the well-respected, 36-year veteran as the department’s next chief.
Because chiefs are excluded from DROP, if Moore had won the promotion before he retired he would have been forced to forfeit the $1.27 million in order to take the job. Several other L.A. police and fire chiefs — including Beck — have lost their DROP payments that way.
Moore acknowledges the timing looks suspicious but insists he “didn’t program it that way.” When he agreed to retire and then come back to work as operations chief, he had no idea he would soon be head of the LAPD, he says.
Moore said he fully expected to leave the department in January when his five-year term in DROP ended. Under the normal rules of the program, he would have had no choice.
But, Moore said, Beck approached him last fall with the plan to bring him back because the department was struggling to find another top administrator who was the right fit for Moore’s job as head of operations — even though the department had five years to find a successor.
“The point of this was something that would be a benefit to [Beck],” Moore said. “Then he asked me to keep it to myself because he had to talk to the mayor and the [chief administrative officer] to see if there would be support to do this.”
Beck said in an interview that he firmly believed “Mike met all the criteria and was vetted within the parameters of what was allowed, and it occurred months before I announced I was going to retire.”
The incident is raising eyebrows among government accountability watchdogs. The DROP program has long been controversial for this very reason and a number of critics are citing the Moore kerfuffle as cause to do away with the program altogether.
According to the Los Angeles Times, 51 LAPD or LAFD officials with "chief" in their title have completed the DROP program since 2008. Six of them have benefited to the tune of more than $1 million, with the average hovering around $794,000. Since 2001, the program has resulted in over $1.6 billion worth of payouts to police and fire personnel. A number of other cities that implemented the program soon dropped it because of the astronomical costs.
Read more at the Los Angeles Times.
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