DAVE & DUJANOVIC

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

Dave & Dujanovic

FILE - This Friday, Feb. 16, 2018, file photo shows application icons from left, Facebook, Facebook...
Curt Gresseth

Expert gives tips on conquering your downward social media scroll

Are you addicted to the social-media scroll? An expert weighs in on what you can do to slow the scroll.
6 days ago
High water in the Gardiner River along the North Entrance to Yellowstone National Park in Montana, ...
Curt Gresseth

Be ready for flash flooding: Expert shares advice

An expert with the Utah Division of Emergency Management shares his expertise and crucial tips on how to be ready for flash flooding when you are in a vehicle or at home.
7 days ago
salt lake mayorMendenhall guns...
Curt Gresseth

After NY law is struck down, two Utah experts sound off on gun rights

Two advocates on either side of the gun-control vs. gun rights debate sound off on the Supreme Court's 6-3 ruling to expand the right to carry a firearm in public.
12 days ago
Salt Lake County Search and Rescue safely rescued a hiker  out of the Lisa Falls trail on Friday.
P...
Curt Gresseth

Search and rescue expert has tips for hikers

Before you head out on your hike, take someone with you, tell somebody where you are going and when you plan to return. Those are just a few words for hikers from an expert on search and rescue.
13 days ago
A fire engine is seen as the Sheep fire burns in Wrightwood, Calif., Monday, June 13, 2022. (AP Pho...
Curt Gresseth

Be Ready Utah: What to do when wildfires close in on your home

Will you be ready if wildfires close in on your home? A survivor of a wildfire shares his experience and an expert shares tips and advice.
14 days ago
(Photo Credit: CNN/Shutterstock)...
Curt Gresseth

What is behind rising credit-card debt? Financial expert weighs in.

A national expert explains the sudden rise in credit-card debt in April and what you can do to lower your monthly payments.
20 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Tax Harassment...
Jordan Wilcox

The best strategies for dealing with IRS tax harassment | You have options!

Learn how to deal with IRS tax harassment. This guide will teach you how to stop IRS phone calls and letters, and how to handle an IRS audit.
spend a day at Bear Lake...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

You’ll love spending the day at Bear Lake | How to spend a day at Bear Lake

Bear Lake is a place that needs to be experienced. Spend a day at Bear Lake.
Curb Appeal...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

How to have the best of both worlds for your house | Home security and curb appeal

Protect your home and improve its curb appeal with the latest security solutions like beautiful garage doors and increased security systems.
Prescription opioids can be disposed of during National Prescription Take Back Day...
Know Your Script

Prescription opioid misuse | How to protect your family from the opioid epidemic

Studies have shown that prescription opioid misuse has increased since COVID-19. So what do you need to know about these opioids?
national heart month...
Intermountain Healthcare

National Heart Month: 5 Lifestyle Changes to Make Today to Keep You Heart Healthy

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. One person dies every 36 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease
Joseph Smith Memorial Building...
Temple Square

The Joseph Smith Memorial Building is an icon of Salt Lake City | Why hosting an event at this beautiful location will make you a hero this year

Here's why hosting an event at the iconic Joseph Smith Memorial Building in downtown Salt Lake City will make you a hero this year.
Bill to restore police retirement plan coming soon, Rep. Paul Ray says