Police Pensions and Voodoo Actuarials

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A key argument that public-safety officials use to justify their absurdly high pension benefits –- i.e., “3 percent at 50” retirements that allow them to retire with 90 percent or more of their final year’s pay as early as age 50 -- is this: We die soon after retirement because of all the stresses and difficulties of our jobs. This is such a common urban legend that virtually every officer who contacts me mentions this “fact.” They never provide back-up evidence.

Here is one article I’ve been sent by police to make their point. It was written in 1999 by Thomas Aveni of the Police Policy Council, a police advocacy organization. Here is the key segment: “Turning our attention back towards the forgotten police shift worker, sleep deprivation must be considered a serious component of another potential killer: job stress. The cumulative effect of sleep deprivation upon the shift-working policeman appears to aggravate job stress, and/or his ability to cope with it.

"Even more troubling is the prospect that the synergy of job stress and chronic sleep indebtedness contributes mightily to a diminished life expectancy. In the U.S., non-police males have a life-expectancy of 73 years. Policemen in the U.S. have a life expectancy of 53-66 years, depending on which research one decides to embrace. In addition, police submit workman's compensation claims six times higher than the rate of other employees ...”

I don’t doubt that police work can be very stressful, but many jobs are stressful, many have long hours, many are more dangerous, many involve sleep deprivation. As intelligent adults, we all need to weigh the risk and benefits of any career choice. Aveni uses the high amount of workers compensation claims as evidence of the dangers of the job, but given the tendency of police and firefighters to abuse the disability system – miraculously discovering a disabling injury exactly a year from retirement, thus getting an extra year off and protecting half the pension from taxes – I’m not convinced this proves anything. Given the number of officers who are retired based on knee injuries, back aches, irritable bowel syndrome, acid reflux, etc., this suggests that police game the system and know their fellows on the retirement board will approve virtually any disability claim.

There are so many legal presumptions (if an officer develops various conditions or diseases it is legally presumed to be work related, whether or not it actually is work related) that bolster the scam. “Disabled” officers often go right out and get similar law enforcement jobs, which calls into question how disabling the injury really is. Regarding sleep deprivation, police and firefighters have secured schedules that minimize the long hours; then the officers often choose to work overtime for double salary, which perhaps is the real cause of sleep problems.

The big whopper in the Aveni article, however, is the claim that officers live to be 53-66. If that were so, there would be no unfunded liability problem because of pension benefits. Police officers would retire at 50-55, then live a few years at best.

But, for example, according to the state of California pubic employees' retirement system (CalPERS) actuary, police actually live longer than average these days, which isn’t surprising given that the earlier people retire and the wealthier they are, the longer they tend to live. And according to a 2006 report to the Oregon Public Employees Retirement System, these are the age-60 life expectancies for the system’s workers (meaning how many years after 60 they will live):

-- Police and fire males: 22.6
-- General service males: 23.4
-- Police and fire females: 25.7
-- General service females: 25.7

So we see that police and firefighters who retire at age 60 live, on average, well into their 80s. That’s real data and not the hearsay used by apologists for enormous police pensions.

CalPERS actuary David Lamoureux sent me a CalPERS presentation called “Preparing for Tomorrow,” from the retirement fund’s 2008 educational forum. The presentation features various “pension myth busters.”

Here is Myth #4 (presented as part of a Power Point presentation): “Safety members do not live as long as miscellaneous members.” CalPERS officials explain that “rumor has it that safety members only live a few years after retirement.” Actuarial data answers the question: “Do they actually live for a shorter time?” The presentation considers the competing facts: “Safety members tend to have a more physically demanding job, this could lead to a shorter life expectancy. However, miscellaneous members sit at their desk and might be more at risk to accumulating table muscle!” Fire officials, by the way, make identical claims about dying as early as police officials.

For answers, CalPERS looked at an experience study conducted by its actuarial office in 2004. It looked at post-retirement mortality data for public safety officials and compared it to mortality rates for miscellaneous government workers covered by the CalPERS system.

Here are the CalPERS life expectancy data for miscellaneous members:

-- If the current age is 55, the retiree is expected to live to be 81.4 if male, and 85 if female.
-- If the current age is 60, the retiree is expected to live to be age 82 if male, and 85.5 if female.
-- If the current age is 65, the retiree is expected to live to be age 82.9 if male, and 86.1 if female.

Here is the CalPERS life expectancy data for public safety members (police and fire, which are grouped together by the pension fund):

-- If the current age is 55, the retiree is expected to live to be 81.4 if male, and 85 if female.
-- If the current age is 60, the retiree is expected to live to be age 82 if male, and 85.5 if female.
-- If the current age is 65, the retiree is expected to live to be age 82.9 if male, and 86.1 if female.

That’s no mistake. The numbers for public safety retirees are identical to those of other government workers. As CalPERS notes, average public safety officials retiree earlier than average miscellaneous members, so they receive their higher level of benefits for a much longer time.

Here is CalPERS again: “Verdict: Myth #4 Busted! Safety members do live as long as miscellaneous members.”

The next time you hear this “we die early” misinformation from a cop, firefighter or other public-safety union member (most of them probably believe it to be true, given how often they have read this in their union newsletters), send them to CalPERS for the truth!

I expected these numbers for the recently retired, given the pension enhancements and earlier retirement ages, but it seemed plausible that police in particular might have had a point about mortality rates in earlier days. But even that’s not true. A 1987 federal report from the National Criminal Justice Reference Center, “Police Officers Retirement: The Beginning of a Long Life,” makes the following point:

“'The average police officer dies within five years after retirement and reportedly has a life expectancy of twelve years less than that of other people.’ Still another author states, ‘police officers do not retire well.’ This fact is widely known within police departments. These statements (which are without supporting evidence) reflect a commonly held assumption among police officers.

"Yet, a search of the literature does not provide published studies in support. Two suggested sources, the Los Angeles City Police and Massachusetts State Police, have provided data which also appears to contradict these assumptions. Reported in this paper are results from a mortality study of retired Illinois State Police (ISP) officers. It suggests that ISP officers have as long, if not longer, life expectancy than the population as a whole. Similar results also arise when examining retirees from the Ohio Highway Patrol, Arizona Highway Patrol, and Kentucky State Police.”

The report also casts doubt on the commonly repeated statistic that police have higher rates of suicide and divorce than other people. The federal report found the divorce rates to be average and suicide rates to be below average. This is important information because it debunks a key rationale for the retirement expansions, although more recent data need to be examined on divorce/suicide rates.

Police have an oftentimes tough job, but many Americans have oftentimes tough and sometimes dangerous jobs. This needs to be kept in perspective. Public officials need to deal in reality rather than in emotionally laden fantasy when considering the public policy ramifications of pensions.

This article was excerpted from Greenhut’s forthcoming book, “Plunder! How Public Employee Unions Are Raiding Treasuries, Controlling Our Lives And Bankrupting The Nation” to be published by The Forum Press in November.

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cops defrauding pension funds

Oh yeah and Greenhut for your information. When you freebase cocaine its just like smoking crack. It is just a rich boys form of crack cocaine. So you need to step away from the stem bro.

Greedy cops, teachers, and firefigthers

October 20, 2009
Seeking to recover more than $200 million in illegal overcharges and penalties, Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. today announced that he has filed suit against State Street Bank and Trust -- one of the world's leading providers of financial services to institutional investors -- for committing "unconscionable fraud" against California's two largest pension funds -- CalPERS and CalSTRS.
The suit, which was unsealed today by a Sacramento Superior Court judge, contends that Boston-based State Street illegally overcharged CalPERS and CalSTRS for the costs of executing foreign currency trades since 2001.
Brown's office estimates that the pension funds were overcharged by more than $56.6 million over eight years. The lawsuit asks for relief in the amount of triple California's damages, civil penalties of $10,000 for each false claim; and recovery of costs, attorneys' fees and expenses. It is estimated that damages and penalties could exceed more than $200 million.
http://www.consumeraffairs.com/ news04/2009/10/ca_pension_fraud.html

Various sites go onto to say that the funds were used to take vacations, buy forty or so luxury homes, BMW’s, BENTLEYS, and other luxury automobiles. They were used also take luxury vacations at the public’s expense. Various simple to find and easily researched articles go onto say that CalPERS is basically in bed with bankers, lobbyists, politicos, mortgage brokers and a whole host of other “businessmen” and scum bags who are ripping these pension funds off. The funds were used by dirt bags like the author’s heroes to bid rig and bolster funds that were already ripped off during the “banking crisis”. It’s a vicious cycle. Just like the ole bait and switch, Green hut (or whatever his name is) would have you believe that it is police officers, firefighters, teachers, and other middle class folk that are to blame for the “pension crisis". Its kind of the same mantra that Rush and Glenn use to bolster their claims regarding the banking meltdown. You know poor people FANNIE MAE and FREDDIE MACK and “THE GOVERNMENT” caused it all. Not poor little rich boys like Green hut. Yes cops are living longer in California. So what OMG! Just do your self a favor before you believe their class warfare? Just GOOGLE or search “California Pension Frauds”. It is real interesting what comes up. You can always tell when the ole fox is in the hen house. In all these boondoggles and bid rigs all you have to do is follow the money.

01. These libertarian “think tanks” are always funded by rich corporations. Guess what if you put fifteen cops or fire fighters in room, fifteen bankers in a room, and fifteen editors in a room. There will be a scum bag in every group.
02 Rich corporations pay for their advertisement. Their ads are not taxed. Not that there is anything wrong with being rich. That is if you make your money honestly, don’t off shore bank it and use it for bribing and bid rigging.
03 They always blame “evil unions”. You see they want an at will slave labor force of cops, teachers, fire fighters, and garbage collectors. They want to be able to lodge a complaint and get them fired. Make them work for ten dollars an hour or go somewhere else.
04 They will always blame regulation. It’s the red light’s fault that I ran into the car and got into a wreck. The cop wasn’t there to stop me or he was at the doughnut store or screwing off somewhere. So its the cops fault as well. Again this is their nonsense. We can go back to the good ole days that he pines for when robber barons ruled and the rich got everything they wanted when they wanted. These are the times prior to the Financial De-regulation Act of 2002 and Taft Hartley. These are times before the Racketeering, Influence, and Corrupt Organizations Act. They pine for monopolization. Ohy yeah I think it was befoer Brown v. The Board of Education and Roe v. Wade. You know the days before when we could stap em down and make em work.
05 They will take whatever tax hand out, social security “entitlement” or corporate welfare that is available. Kind of like Ron Paul taking Medicare payments for his patients and then de crying Medicare as an entitlement and not wanting anyone else to have it.
06 Its “drill baby drill’ until the bill comes due and then it’s the government‘s fault for making me bribe, have coke and sex parties with all those people in the Fed’s Mining and Mineral Regulations Bureau. They will always attempt to turn a public asset into a private asset. They are frenetic about the “pension meltdown” for only one reason. Take public pension funds and turn them over to their buddies at Morgan Stanley, Bank of America and Goldman Sacs. Their buddies can then coke and whore party it up with public money.
07 These guys don’t do anything. They don’t work. They don’t produce anything. They don’t provide any services like firefighting, teaching, or policing, driving taxi cabs, picking up garbage, or painting. They don't provide a service and they don't manufacture anything but stress and class envy. The will always endeavor to convince everyone that these are “unfunded mandates or entitlements”. Pension funds are essentially wage deferred funds that you as a tax payer paid because you could pay a decent wage. Now when the economy is so bad, who is the stupid one for going into public service? Or as Green hut would want “at will slave service”. Oh yeah Green hut go and see what NYC Cops make after five years.YOU will be soo mad. Go and see what privatized firefighters in gated cities make in California. My question is can you get a qualified applicant for less money? NOPE. You don’t like the profession. Not my problem. Most newspaper and blogger professionals are not at the top of my list.
08 They have an ideology that divides classes along socioeconomic, racial, ethnic and religious lines.
09 They always shift blame.
10 They are starting on the middle class now. They are claiming that more than sixty percent of the firefighters in California are on fraudulent disability claims. A cop gets shot so it’s the cop's fault for not wearing the right body armor. A teacher can’t meet and teach and perform up to a privatized company’s testing standards in an inner city school; the school gets no money. Kind of tautological in its whole unique perspective isn’t it? No schools from rich areas perform badly, so rich areas should get all the money. Never mind that the testing companies are owned by Green hut and his little rich boy friends. This is what Greenhut and his buddies are all about class envy and class warfare. Gee am I glad that I became a cop and worked for thirty years to get a pension. Green hut go research it some of those dasterdly cops in LA County are making more than a quarter million a year dude. Then they go and work for privatized companies in Iraq and make another quarter million all tax deferred. Of course you could do it could you? Now who is the stupid one?

greedy teachers, firefighters, cops

Oh yeah all the training in the world and you couldn't police anywhere in LA County, teach in any LA county pubic school or put out any fire. You policing anywhere....., its a nadda. Teaching anywhere that is not a privatized bid rigged non- tested white bread school..., nope. You fire fighting..., you have got to be kidding. Listen dipstick I can do your job. But you do mine...., not so much.

Public Employee Pensions

"As intelligent adults, we all need to weigh the risk and benefits of any career choice."
01. Some of us were not born with silver spoons inserted diagonally into our mouths or up our hindsides.
02. Some of us had to actually work to obtain our MA's at State Colleges and Universities that require litle topics like Calculus I and Macro and Macro Economics and Intermediate Price Theory.
03. We didn't get our degrees in underwatger basket weaving. We worked in between calls for service going to domestics, child abuse, and homicide cases in your gated neighborhoods. Or even better kept "those people" as you call them at bay so you could prep around, coke it up and chase whores.
04. I guess looking back at a thirty year career I wasn't so stupid. Now it bothers you and amuses me. I hope I live until I am a hundred. Maybe I will still be kicking butts in BJJ class. But I digress.It really bothers you that cops actually make more than 20K a year and get pensions. Cops don't get those 401K's because your buddies at Morgan Stanley and Bank of America partied all those "investments" away on boon doggles, bid rigs, coke whores, and gambling. They don't get 401Ks because they don't profit share.... stupid prep boy. Types like you are what is the matter with the country. You blame poor people for everything and tell the middle class to shut up, sit in the corner, teach my kids,put out my fires and for _od's Sake, PROTECT ME. You still have the tea party types convinced that it was poor people (them) that created the financial mess by actually wanting homes. Not "libertarians" that wanted no regulation and passed the Financial De- Regulation Act of 2002. Look at the oil mess your types created in the Gulf with no regulation weak "watchdogs". Who once again coked and partied it all away.

You would probably be the first to pine and whine about the military pensions and having to pay all those pesky taxes for the hospital bills for cops, firefighters, and those "non- intelligent adults" who didn't choose your stupid career. You know the non- intelligent ones. Those types who managed to survive the towers and actually serve their country. You were not in the military were you? Your types didn't actaully do anything during or help anyone did you? You are the typical whitebread cry baby.

Richard Rider

Well, obviously I've rattled another clueless, sniveling, Navy liberal. Richard, do your homework, son. Simply access the text that I referenced ("The Impact of Shift Work On Police Officers," published by PERF), and then make some intelligent observations from there. Do you think you're up to that challenge? Or, would you rather just continue hiding behind childish posts?

As for this clueless remark;
"Data paid for and published by police officer labor union hacks is "respected" research???"

Richard, put down that Navy crack pipe. PERF (Police Executive Research Forum) is NOT a police union or even remotely related to any police unions. They are a prestigious, independent think-tank. In fact, most police officers dislike PERF. Go to their website (www.policeforum.org) and do something honest, for a change. If you read the text that I referenced (above) you’ll see that the “age 53” issue was taken from THEIR TEXT. You don’t like that? Take it up with them. In the meantime, try to post something mature and intelligent…..if that’s possible.

BTW, You are NOT a "Vietnam Veteran" if you served as an administrative weenie in the US Navy. The Navy was a refuge for draft-dodgers, derelicts and drunks. Sorry Richard, but you'll have to pretend to be something else.

Robert use your teenee enni little brain and do some math son..


I know that teenee little brain can do some easy math. If police officers died at between 55 and 65 you would have no unfunded pension liabilities. Guess what Robert, California is broke because retired police officers obviously live closer to 82 years of age because unfunded pension liabilities are massive and are breaking the state of California's treasury. Why do you think Arnold your governor is behind the president’s stimulus package? California received a lot of this stimulus so that that money could go into unfunded pension liabilities. Robert you are probably one a thousands of retired police of fireman at an early retirement age breaking your states treasury. You hate to hear the truth and you are probably one of the people who hate people who get welfare checks. You my friend are receiving the largest welfare check of all at the expense of your fellow American tax payer. You could care a less and long as you continue to get your cushy retirement check. Tell hell with your fellow American tax payer and tell hell with the states treasuries. You are a pathetic American.

Stereotype is not a basis for a book.

I'm a 21 year veteran of a municipal fire department in Texas. I'm also a member of my local Firefighters Association which is a branch of the Texas State Association of Fire Fighters, the state branch of the International Association of Fire Fighters. I haven't read Mr.Greenhut's book but I have a great deal of experience being a union member and a municipal employee and the implication from this article and many others that I've read is that union members gain some sway or leverage in pension decisions and use that influence to raid treasuries. I know that happens but it is WRONG if the implication intends to say that is universal.

First, we can't strike BY LAW. That's as IT SHOULD BE. I agree with that and have NO DESIRE TO EVER STRIKE. Second, my union has ZERO input into my retirement benefit. No member of my union has ever had any influence into my benefits. The Texas Municipal Retirement System offers cities who participate in their programs an array of options which are regulated by the State of Texas. The investments TMRS is allowed to make with the money, the amounts the employee is compelled to contribute throughout their career and the deferred amounts of compensation that the municipalities match in the plan are all PRE-scribed and decided without any influence by the Firefighters Association and it mirrors the retirements that our librarian, our Water Department, Streets, Parks, etc. are a party to. Every cent of it is based on percentages of salary that are removed from our check in addition to matching amounts from the city which is the same thing as salary except that we never see it and the city doesn't have to produce ALL of those amounts in real time.

I am NOT complaining when I say our Firefighters Association has zero arbitration, binding or otherwise, other than being a voice for the members who VOLUNTEER to participate in the Association. When we approach our administration and our city management for discussions it is at their pleasure whether they hear us or whether they comply with our requests unless they have broken the law. We have zero leverage other than goodwill. We believe that is as it SHOULD be. When the city breaks the law and violates an employee's rights the State Association is a resource to provide legal expertise for the benefit of the member. Because the cities have legal staff and occasionally make decisions that are contrary to law the primary benefit to the individual firefighter is advocacy WHEN THE LAW HAS BEEN BROKEN.

I've personally seen several firefighters lose their jobs after requesting representation from the Association. Our local has never hesitated to get involved but they HAVE NO LEVERAGE. The only thing our Associations, local and state bring to the table is the weight of law. Virtually NONE of these cases ever go to court. The final decision is made at the city council level where it should be. When the council hears the legal counsel from the State Association and from the city's legal counsel they have both sides of the arguement with which to make their decisions. I believe this is a reasonable use of pooled or 'unionized' resources.

I am as conservative a citizen and voter as you will likely ever find. I do NOT believe the city owes me anything other than what they have promised and volunteered to legally bind themselves to. Neither I nor any member of the Firefighters Association has ever approached our city to coerce or 'arbitrate' any of the parameters of my retirement. Other than the decision between a small array of choices that my employer and the other municipal employers in the State of Texas who participate in the TMRS, the underlying parameters of retirement options in the TMRS are determined by statute and no Public Safety Union holds any legal authority to determine that.

Generalities about 'unions' are just that. The public should make sure they are well informed about how their local public safety employees' retirements were awarded and why.

"Get all the fools on your side and you can be elected to anything.”

Frank Dane

Labor unions run most city govts

Police, firefighters and other city workers generally are the single most important force in most city governments. They have the most sway in elections -- through endorsements, money and manpower -- because they have the most to gain.

H.L. Mencken once said that "elections are sort of like an advance auctions of stolen property." Unions hold an auction audition among the candidates, and the one that promise the most city worker pay and benefits gets the hugely valuable labor union support.

That way when labor "negotiations" come around, the unions essentially negotiate with themselves. EVERYONE in the process -- city workers, city management, city attorneys and city politicians -- look to benefit from generous pensions. No one represents the taxpayers. It is a damn near universal problem -- even overseas.

Pension giveaways are particularly popular with politicians. They can give retroactive pension increases today, and the bill does not come due for years -- usually when the politicos are retired with their OWN fat pensions.

Atypical Work Hours and Metabolic Syndrome Among Police Officers

Well-well, Richard Rider!!!!
You chose a fine-time to go into hiding!!!
The 1991 PERF text ("The Impact of Shift Work On Police Officers") and Mr. Aveni's article have (again) been vindicated!! See excerpts (below) of a recent Force Science Institute news bulletin.


Midnight Shift and Health Risks: New Study Tells Sobering Truths

Officers who predominately work midnights are at greater risk of developing severe health problems than civilians and other cops, especially if they average more than about 90 minutes of overtime per week and have trouble sleeping.

This is established in a new study by an 8-member team of health experts, headed by Dr. John Violanti, a former state trooper and now a research associate professor at the State University of New York-Buffalo.

In an ongoing series of groundbreaking investigations, Violanti and cohorts have previously explored shift work and its relationship to suicidal thoughts and to problems of sleep quality. In one earlier study, they found that retired LEOs in general tend to die some 6 years sooner than other retired civic workers.

"The newest findings confirm one more way that policing endangers those who serve," says Dr. Bill Lewinski, executive director of the Force Science Research Center, which was not involved in the team's discoveries.

Over all, 30% of midnight officers had metabolic syndrome, versus 11% on days and about 15% on afternoon shifts.

"This is a very significant finding for a couple of reasons," Vila says. "First of all, studies of the general population have found that about 22% exhibit metabolic syndrome, and that includes sick people, old people, and others who might be expected to have a negative impact on the number. Cops at least have been screened for good overall physical and mental health when they joined the force.

"Besides that, officers in our study who worked midnights tended to be younger than those working days by an average of 6 years. You would expect younger officers to be less susceptible to the risk factors for serious diseases."

Midnight officers took additional hits when sleep and overtime were factored into the study.

The researchers report: "Officers who worked midnight shifts and [averaged] less than 6 hours sleep had a significantly higher mean number of metabolic syndrome components" than those who worked day and afternoon shifts. Indeed, their mean number of risk factors was more than 4 times that of day officers and more than 2 ? times that of those working afternoons.

A full report on the newest study, "Atypical Work Hours and Metabolic Syndrome Among Police Officers," appears in the journal Archives of Environmental & Occupational Health, vol. 64, #3, 2009 and is available online for a fee.

Click here to access a paid copy of the report.

I think Richard hit a nerve with Robert Anderson

Robert stop posting studies by a former state trooper who supports your point of view. You guys are so crooked with your unions and payoff doctors, who where former state troopers to put out trash studies to support your fraudulent pension plans. Go try to work on a king crab boat or as a roofer on a hot summer day, construction worker, a butcher in a meat house or any other job that is physically demanding. Let’s see how many backaches and pulled muscles you get out of that. Instead you guys sit in the air conditioned cars as highway work going on and collect huge retirement benefits while you eat donuts and drink coffee. Why do you think comedians always make fun of cops eating donuts and drinking coffee? This stereotype did not come out of the blue. Most Americans know you have cushy jobs and yes as all jobs sometimes they get stressful, but fore the most part it is a great job to have with huge retirement benefits.