CRIME

Bill to restore police retirement plan coming soon, Rep. Paul Ray says

Jan 7, 2019, 2:26 PM

In the wake of the death of Provo Police Officer Joseph Shinners, Utah lawmakers are publicly talking about reworking the state’s public safety retirement system to better compensate officers for the risk they take in the line of duty.

Utah police officers saw their retirement plans significantly changed nine years ago. Before, officers were promised 50 percent of their income for life if they retired after 20 years of service. A bill passed in 2010, however, lowered that offer to 37.5 percent of their income after 25 years; a change some believe helped bring on our state’s current police shortage.

When KSL Newsradio invited Rep. Paul Ray onto the Dave & Dujanovic show to discuss the police shortage and Officer Shinners’ death, Ray surprised them by announcing that lawmakers are already drafting a plan to restore the police retirement program.

New risks for Utah police

Press conference for Joseph Shinners

Officials hold a press conference in the Provo City Council chambers announcing the shooting death of Provo police officer Joseph Shinners on Sunday, Jan. 6, 2019. (Photo: Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)

The public safety retirement program was slashed in the midst of the Great Recession. The economy was struggling nation-wide, and every state, Ray says, was under serious pressure to either cut costs on retirement plans or see their bond ratings downgraded.

“We were a billion dollars upside-down,” Ray told Dave & Dujanovic, and few were willing to wait for the market to recover. Our police officers’ retirement plan was seriously cut to make the numbers add up.

Ray believes that decision was a mistake. He says that the state “jumped the gun” when they cut down the retirement plan and that we’ve been seeing the consequences ever since.

Applications from new police officers have dropped by more than 50 percent in Salt Lake City since the retirement program was changed, and some have argued that the change is no coincidence.

For his part, Ray credited most of the problems police officers face today to an increased scrutiny on police officers in the media instead, which he believes have put officers’ lives in jeopardy.

“They’re afraid to shoot. They’re afraid to protect themselves,” Ray told Dave & Dujanovic.

He says that police officers have told him they’ve hesitated before taking a shot that could save lives out of a fear of what would happen if the pulled the trigger.

“That’s getting people killed now,” Ray says. “This is what we get as a result of all that unnecessary — I think, a lot of the time — protests against law enforcement.”

Bringing back the retirement program

Provo Police Chief Rich Ferguson

Provo Police Chief Rich Ferguson speaks about officer Joseph Shrinners, 29, who was shot and killed in Orem late Saturday, during a press conference in the Provo City Council chambers on Sunday, Jan. 6, 2019. (Photo: Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)

To Ray, cutting the public security retirement program was just an insult to police officers who are already struggling with so many challenges in the line of duty.

“Worst thing we could’ve done to law enforcement,” Ray says. “We took away their retirement, pretty much.”

Police officers in Utah, Ray says, are already underpaid. With low pay, high risk, and an unprecedented amount of public scrutiny, Ray believes that it’s past time that they got back their retirement package.

He says that Rep. Lee Perry, Rep. James Dunnigan, and Sen. Wayne Harper are already working on a new plan. Perry is also a lieutenant with the Utah Highway Patrol.

Their bill, Ray says, is “kind of a compromise.” Officers would still have to work for 25 years to qualify for retirement rather than the old 20-year minimum. However, they would once again receive 50 percent of their pay instead of 37.5 percent.

“I’d rather have the 20 [year minimum] for law enforcement,” Ray admitted, “but at this point, we’ll take what we can get to at least move it forward a little bit.”

Ray did not say when the revision would be put forward, and it remains to be seen whether it will be passed. Ray is hopeful, however, that the new bill will pass through the legislature and that police officers in Utah will get back the benefits they once were promised.

Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon on KSL Newsradio. Users can find the show on the KSL Newsradio website and app, as well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play.

affordable care actaffordable care act

Today’s Top Stories

Crime

bomb...
Elizabeth Weiler

Man arrested in relation to Provo Towne Center Mall bomb threat

A Provo man was arrested after calling in a bomb threat to his former employer. The man was recently fired.
10 hours ago
Eli Mitchell, victim of fatal hit and run...
Mark Jones

Utah County man pleads guilty to death of West Jordan teenager

A Saratoga Springs man pleaded guilty Tuesday in Third District Court of automobile homicide in connection to the death of a 13-year-old West Jordan teenager last April.
1 day ago
homeless shelters and Homelessness in Utah...
Alejandro Lucero

Utah official says better coordination could help with homelessness

Homelessness continues to grow in big cities across the U.S., and Salt Lake City is not an enigma. Could focusing on mental health help curb the trend?
1 day ago
Flowers and stuffed animals are lined up outside a sign along Pullman Road in Moscow, Idaho, to pay...
Elizabeth Wolfe and Eric Levenson

University of Idaho students return from break, no arrests in homicides

After more than two weeks since four students were fatally stabbed, students at the University of Idaho returned to class on Monday.
1 day ago
vail resorts...
Elizabeth Weiler

Vail Resorts facing million dollar lawsuit after a Utah bowling alley incident

PARK CITY, Utah — After a bowling incident during a company party, a jury is ordering Vail Resorts’ Mountain activities to pay over $2 million for a personal injury that caused extensive surgeries.  In April, according to a case overview, Jupiter Bowl hosted a team party for Vail employees. During the party, Vail Resorts’ employees […]
2 days ago
death sentence appeal...
Becky Bruce

State intends to appeal vacated death sentence of Utah man

The state of Utah filed paperwork Monday indicating it intends to appeal the vacated death sentence of Douglas Stewart Carter, a man first sentenced to death in 1985.
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...
Sorenson

The best tools for Deaf and hard-of-hearing workplace success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...
Macey's

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
christmas decorations candles in glass jars with fir on a old wooden table...
Western Nut Company

12 Mason Jar Gift Ideas for the 12 Days of Christmas [with recipes!]

There are so many clever mason jar gift ideas to give something thoughtful to your neighbors or friends. Read our 12 ideas to make your own!
wide shot of Bear Lake with a person on a stand up paddle board...

Pack your bags! Extended stays at Bear Lake await you

Work from here! Read our tips to prepare for your extended stay, whether at Bear Lake or somewhere else nearby.
young boy with hearing aid...
Sorenson

Accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing

These different types of accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing can help them succeed in school.
Young woman receiving laser treatment...
Form Derm Spa

How facial plastic surgery and skincare are joining forces

Facial plastic surgery is not only about looking good but about feeling good too. The medical team at Form Spa are trained to help you reach your aesthetic outcomes through surgery and through skincare and dermatology, too.
Bill to restore police retirement plan coming soon, Rep. Paul Ray says