Tuesday, 28 March 2017 13:39
Retiring Louisiana State Police Chief Edmonson retirement $ back in news
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edmonson2by Tom Aswell, Publisher of Louisiana Voice

It must be nice when you can get the rules written just for you.

There must come a time when even the most disinterested, blasé, apolitical person living has to look up from whatever else occupies his interest and say, “Wait a damned minute. This just ain’t right and we’re not gonna do it.”

Or, as Peter Finch as Howard Beale in the classic movie Network would say: “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!”

Just when you think you heard the last of Mike Edmonson, the erstwhile Superintendent of State Police, he comes back to haunt us and taunt us.

Remember way back in 2014 when LouisianaVoice first made you aware of SB 294, signed into law by Bobby Jindal as ACT 859? The bill, authored by Sen. Jean-Paul J. Morrell (D-New Orleans), appeared only to deal with procedures for formal, written complaints made against police officers.

But thanks to a little back room deal between Edmonson Chief of Staff Charles Dupuy and State Sen. Neil Riser (R-Columbia and an announced candidate for State Treasurer), a last-minute amendment was tacked onto that bill that, contrary to verbal assurances to legislators that the bill would cause no financial impact, would have actually given Edmonson an additional $50,000 or so in retirement income.

Thanks to a timely anonymous letter informing us of the amendment, we were able to break the story and the resulting furor over that was such that State Sen. Dan Claitor (R-Baton Rouge) filed suit in 19th Judicial District Court to block the raise that Edmonson was already being forced to disavow. District Court Judge Janice Clark threw out the law.

Why?

Because Edmonson voluntarily and of his own free will chose some years earlier to lock his retirement in at $76,000 by entering into the state’s Deferred Retirement Option Plan (DROP) while he was still at the rank of captain. That decision, which is considered irrevocable, locked in his retirement at a rate based on his captain’s pay while netting him a higher salary at the time.

But now he’s back and because of a rather complicated quirk in the law—applicable, apparently, only to State Police—it appears he will get that extra retirement income after all—not $76,000 as dictated by his decision to enter DROP way back when, but $128,559, according to Jim Mustian’s Baton Rouge ADVOCATE online story.

Here is the way Retirement says it’s calculated, according to one retired Trooper:

Act 1160 relative to the re-computation of the pre-DROP benefit and the pre-DROP final average compensation applies to you if (1) you participated in DROP on or before June 30, 2001, 2) continued in state police employment after participation in DROP without a break in service, and (3) remained in such continuous employment on or after July 1, 2001. These special provisions do not apply to members who retired on or before July 1, 2001.

If You Entered DROP With 25 Years or More of Hard State Trooper Service:

Pre-DROP Benefit – If you meet the criteria set forth in (1), (2), and (3) above, and you entered DROP with 25 years or more of hard state trooper service, you are eligible for a re-computation of your pre-DROP benefit at 3 1/3% multiplied by the number of years of service to your credit prior to your effective date of participation in DROP, and further multiplied by your final average salary as computed when you entered DROP.

Post-DROP Benefit – Your post-DROP benefit will be calculated at 31/3% multiplied by the number of years of service to your credit after DROP participation, and further multiplied by your final average compensation. The final average compensation used will be the average determined at the beginning of DROP, or, a new current final average if you worked for an additional 12 or 36 months (based on your hire date).

If You Entered DROP With Less Than 25 Years of Hard State Trooper Service:

Pre-DROP Benefit – If you meet the requirements stated above and you entered DROP with less than 25 years of hard state trooper service, you may also be eligible for a re-computation of your final average compensation based on your hard 25th year of trooper service (or your highest 12-month average if you have not reached your 25th year) for the purpose of determining your new pre-DROP benefit. This re-computation of the final average salary will be based on any 12-month period of service (but limited to the first 25 years) while a member of LSPRS regardless of hire date.

Post-DROP Benefit – Your Post-DROP benefit will be calculated at 3 1/3% multiplied by the number of years of service to your credit after DROP participation, and further multiplied by the greater of 1) your final average salary as determined when we recomputed your pre-DROP benefit, or 2) your current final average compensation based on a 12-month average regardless of hire date.

The sum of any re-computed pre and post DROP retirement benefit shall not exceed 100% of your current final average compensation.

For purposes of determining the average compensation based on the first 25 years, (1) “state trooper service” does not include military service purchased, actuarially transferred service, or reciprocally recognized service, or any form of purchase of service credit, and (2) “average salary” does not include overtime, expenses, clothing allowances, or any remuneration resulting from military service.

If you are eligible for a re-computation under Act 1160, this does not change the amounts credited to your DROP account. The re-computation is for the monthly benefit amount you receive upon retirement only.

Got it?

Didn’t think so.

But the overriding question that’s impossible shake is this: If this rule existed, why was it necessary back in 2014 to try and sneak the benefit increase through the legislature as an amendment to an otherwise harmless bill?

Something doesn’t pass the smell test here and when you take a look at the makeup of the State Police Retirement System’s Board of TRUSTEES, six of whom are either active or retired State Troopers, the odor doesn’t get any better.

The bottom line here is this:

Whether or not special provisions are in place for State Troopers to circumvent the irrevocable provisions of DROP, if the State Police Retirement System’s Board of Trustees goes forward with giving Edmonson this $128,559, every single state employee who ever opted to enter DROP at any time should retain legal counsel and go after the additional retirement funds to which he or she is entitled.

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