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5,000 people sign the #PayOurPolice pledge to restore police retirement benefits

A crowd holds up American flags to show their support for slain Provo police officer Joseph Shinners. (Photo: Scott G. Winterton / Deseret News)

Just five days ago, KSL Newsradio’s Dave & Dujanovic asked their listeners to sign the #PayOurPolice pledge to restore our state’s Public Safety Retirement Program. They hoped that the people of Utah would show their support for their police officers — but they never expected a response like this.

Already, 5,000 people have signed the pledge, sending a clear message to Utah’s legislature to fix what police officers say is a worse pension program than any neighboring state.

They are calling on more Utahns to make their voices heard and to help ensure our men and women in blue are taken care of when they retire.

How Utah’s police pension plans changed

In 2010, our police officers’ pension plans were drastically changed.

Before, every officer in Utah was promised, if they served 20 years on the force, they’d be able to retire and receive 50 percent of their salary for life. For a lot of officers, it was that promise that kept them willing to keep risking their lives on the job as the emotional and physical toll began to wear them down.

In 2010, however, our state was caught in a recession, and lawmakers were looking for any options they had to keep costs down. The Public Safety Retirement Program hit the chopping block and was gutted. Any officers joining the ranks from 2011 onward, under the updated law, were required to work 25 years just to received 37 percent of their salary.

The impact was incredible. In Salt Lake City, applications from new police officers dropped by more than 50 percent within just three years of the change, according to a BYU report, and other jurisdictions say they’ve seen similar drops.

The new retirement plan, officers say, just isn’t competitive with what other states are offering. As Taylorsville Police Chief Tracy Wyant told Dave & Dujanovic: “Every neighboring state to Utah … has a superior public retirement plan that we have in Utah. It’s something we need to remedy.”

A lot of the people who have signed the #PayOurPolice pledge are officers themselves who admit that they, too, are worried about whether they’ll be able to support their families under the new plan or if they’ll have to leave the state to make ends meet.

One pledge signer wrote:

I was a police officer in another state and moved here to Utah about three years ago. I work for a city police force, my family and I love the community, and would love to retire here, but we are not sure we would be able to with how terrible the retirement is for police in Utah. If it doesn’t change, we may have to move elsewhere in order to have financial peace of mind.

For others, leaving the force isn’t just something they’ve considered, it’s something they’ve already done. Another signer told us:

“I was a sheriff deputy but quit because of this change.”

The Public Safety Retirement Program isn’t just something that affects police officers and firefighters. It’s something that affects every person who relies on a staffed police force to keep their neighborhoods safe.

Until a bill to restore our police officers’ pensions is passed, Dave & Dujanovic are still calling on every Utahn to sign the pledge.

More on #PayOurPolice

Learn more about #PayOurPolice and the bill that could fix the Public Safety Retirement Program by clicking here.

You can also hear what Dave & Dujanovic have to say about the pledge on their podcast:

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.

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