ANCHORAGE (AP) - Four Anchorage Police Department officers are marking their retirement by reporting back to work.
They make up the first group to take advantage of a new department policy allowing officers to retire, collect pensions, and come back to work to draw a salary and benefits as well.
The department is short about 45 officers, 13 percent of the force. More losses are expected soon.
"We're looking for some immediate relief just to help stem the tide," said Police Chief Walt Monegan.
The chief had been developing the hire-back policy for months. City officials signed off on the idea in the past two weeks.
The retirement checks do not cost the city anything, Monegan said.
Officers who started before 1994 are vested in the Municipal Police and Fire Retirement System. That system was supported by employee and government contributions but is now closed and fully funded.
When officers retire and come back to work, their pay and seniority drops to that of a rookie. The municipality pays the same officers about 40 percent less and is spared the $10,000 or so to replace them with rookies.
"That actually saves us money because we're not doing the recruiting, we're not doing the testing, certainly don't have to do the training," Monegan said.
The new policy can be lucrative for some officers who are eligible for retirement but are not ready to give up their gun and badge. Although an officer takes a cut in pay, the pension makes up for that and then some. Another benefit from the retirement system, Monegan said, is $500 per month that goes into an account for medical expenses.
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The police administration has been watching officers retire and take jobs elsewhere. Monegan said Anchorage had to do something to entice them to stay on a badly depleted force.