By C.N. Staff Writer
The District’s Police Department is asking officers over 64 to retire or be fired. This includes police officers who will turn 64 this year. Several officers received notices saying, “Upon reaching the age of 64, members of the department shall be retired in good standing.” If they fail to submit paperwork, then it will still be forwarded to the board for retirement. A spokesperson for D.C. police says only 25 officers out of a force of over 4,000 will be forced to retire through 2015.
Fraternal Order of Police lawyers are investigating whether officers can be forced into retirement in this manner. FOP chairman-elect Delroy Burton does not believe the department has the authority to do so. “There is no requirement that they retire,” Burton said. “It is discretionary.” According to the union, the police force members who received the notice are still fit for duty and model officers. Burton said, “For the police department to treat them this way, I think it’s an insult,” Burton said. “I think this is despicable.” He went on to say that loosing the experience of the older officers would be hard to replace and that the impact is bigger than the numbers.
Prior to receiving the letters, older officers had to meet the same requirements as younger officers to remain on the force, such as physicals every two years, firearm re-certifications, and in-service training. D.C. Police say the actual code has been in existence for decades. Representatives said it was being strictly enforced up until 2000 when they think the number of officers in that age bracket dwindled. Now they say this is just what they need to do to come into compliance.
To add irony to the request, this January, Police Chief Cathy Lanier said that over the next five years the force will struggle as about 1,000 officers will become eligible to retire. Over the next five years the force faces a retirement bubble of about 1,000 officers who began on the force in the 80s and early 90s. Officers hired during that time must be at least 50 years old and have served on the force for at least 25 years.