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PBA Pushes for Bill That Would Allow SUNY Cops to Retire After 25 Years

By Kerry Longobucco.
Every police department in the state allows their officers the option to collect their pension after 20 or 25 years -- except the New York State University Police Department.

The Police Benevolent Association of New York State says not offering such a retirement benefit is hurting policing on SUNY campuses. It's urging Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) to make a change.

The end of watch for a cop on a SUNY campus doesn't come until age 63.

"A new SUNY police officer, hired at say age 23, would have to work forty years before he or she is eligible for a pension," Daniel De Federicis, executive director of the PBA of NYS, said.

This is in contrast to most other police agencies, where officers receive their pension after 20 or 25 years of service. Some SUNY officers are finding the wait to 63 isn't worth it.

"They get hired through the academy, and then a year or so later, it dawns on them that they have to work twice as long as police officers in a neighboring community," Peter Barry, president of the PBA of NYS, said. "They make the logical decision to go scout out other opportunities to work elsewhere."

The PBA says currently, one third of SUNY police officers are transferring out early in their law enforcement careers -- sometimes, they resign within less than a year. It's a cycle officials have dubbed 'Train and transfer.'

The PBA says SUNY is often losing its police officers before the university gets a return on its investment.

"Since 2008, SUNY says its lost nearly 5 million dollars to officers who are leaving SUNY," Barry said. "It costs between $85,000 and $100,000 to outfit, train, recruit SUNY police officers," Barry said.

However, the Citizens Budget Commission wrote the governor in support of his 2014 veto of a bill that would allow SUNY cops to retire after 25 years. It says the legislation would have a one-time cost of $10 million, with an additional annual cost of $1 million.

As young cops leave their SUNY careers in the rearview mirror of their patrol cars -- the PBA says universities are left with an aging, overworked police force.

"Everyone realizes that working midnights, rotating shifts, dealing with people when the need arises," Barry said. "It's a young person's job."

De Federicis believes it's important to have a balance between younger and older officers.

"I appreciate seeing young police officers graduating from the academy with all that energy, all that vigor," De Federicis said. "That is needed."

The governor has until December 18 to pass the bill, or shoot it down once more.