Mass. 'police exodus' causing concern
Officer retirements spike after bonuses cut
BOSTON — Boston police and other departments across the state are grappling with a sharp increase in the number of officers resigning or retiring as the state slashes a generous bonus program that had boosted police paychecks for years.
Last month, when the benefit cuts took effect in Boston, 21 city officers, detectives, and supervisors left or retired. That number is a dramatic increase over previous years - in January 2009, just 6 officers left; between 8 and 10 officers left in each of the previous four years, according to the department.
Police in other communities are reporting a similar pattern, which they are attributing not only to a drop in the take-home pay for officers and police chiefs who have degrees related to law enforcement, but also to concerns about how proposed changes to the state’s pension system might affect the retirement income of police officers.
Retirements are rising as the number of people seeking to become police officers has plunged. In 2007, 11,357 people took the exam required to apply to become a police officer, a huge drop from the 21,625 who took it in 1997.
“It is worrisome,’’ said Boston Police Commissioner Edward F. Davis. “We’re in a tough situation as far as the replacement of these officers. . . . We lose experience - that’s the single biggest issue.’’
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