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#PayOurPolice: Dave & Dujanovic’s campaign to restore Utah’s police pension program

The South Salt Lake City Police department is filled with American flags to honor the death of Officer David Romrell. KSL Newsradio's Dave & Dujanovic are campaigning to improve the police retirement plan to help make sure officers who risk their lives in duty, like Romrell did, are properly taken care of. (Photo: Qiling Wang / Deseret News)

In 2011, Utah’s police officer saw their retirement plan drastically changed.

KSL Newsradio’s Dave & Dujanovic are calling on your support to sign their pledge to get their benefits restored.

How did the retirement plan change?

New police recruits

File photo of new recruits being sworn into duty. (Photo: KSL TV)

Before 2011, any officer who served 20 years was entitled to retire and receive 50 percent of their salary for life.

It was a popular program among police, who say that it helped them lure capable staff; the nation, however, was in a recession, and in a bid to cut costs wherever possible, the state slashed the program, now requiring officers to work 25 years to retire with just 37 percent of their wage.

The impact, police say, has been drastic. Within three years, applications from new officers in Salt Lake City dropped by more than 50 percent, according to a report in the Daily Universe, with police chiefs around the state reporting similar drops in recruitment.

Taylorsville Police Chief Tracy Wyant says that, when he applied for his job in blue in 1997, there were about 700 people vying for only a handful of positions. Twenty-plus years later, the situation is very, very different.

The last time his team had to recruit new officers, he says, they only received 62 applications.

Today, as every police chief knows all too well, new recruits are hard to come by. And while that is a problem nationwide, Wyant believes that, in Utah, a lot of it has to do with slashing the police retirement program. He’s told Dave & Dujanovic:

“Since the legislation that was passed in 2010 and enacted in 2011, we have seen a steady decline in the number of applications received.”

In part, Wyant admits, that change happened because of Utah’s booming economy and because of a growing negative image of police in the media. But he believes that a big part of it, on top of all that, is the changes to the retirement program. He’s says:

“Every neighboring state to Utah … has a superior public retirement plan that we have in Utah. It’s something we need to remedy.”

How you can help

Some legislators in Utah are trying to do just that. Senator Wayne Harper and Representatives Paul Ray and Lee Perry say they are preparing a bill to revert the police retirement back to providing 50 percent of an officer’s income and they need your help to make sure it passes.

“Talk to your representatives,” Ray says. “If you want them to vote for it, you’ve got to contact them and say: ‘We really want this to pass this year.’”

To make sure Utah’s legislator get that message, Dave & Dujanovic are asking listeners to pledge their support for the state to improve police retirement benefits.

They ask you sign the pledge and to let your representatives know that you want to make sure our officers are taken care of when they retire.

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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