ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – Albuquerque’s mayor is once again pushing the controversial idea of letting retired police officers come back to work while collecting their pension. He calls the practice known as “double-dipping”, “return to work”.
New Mexico did have “return to work” for 23 years but in 2010 lawmakers voted it away.
The mayor says it needs to come back to help fill his understaffed police department.
In a packed conference room Thursday, Mayor Berry was joined by state and city leaders as he promoted this bill. He says “return to work” is vital for New Mexico law enforcement and that it keeps more skilled and experienced officers on the force.
The bill would allow officers who retired before the end of 2015 to come back and work for a max of five years more years while collecting their pension at the same time. Mayor Berry says “return to work” would have a major impact on the Albuquerque Police Department which is about 150 officers short.
At the meeting, DPA cabinet secretary Gregory Fouratt said the problem with recruiting and retaining officers is being felt state-wide.
The sheriffs of Dona Ana and Eddy Counties both have a 22 percent officer vacancy rate. T or c has a 36 percent officer vacancy rate.
They also claim their studies show a return to work law won’t hurt the state’s retirements funds.
The legislative session starts next week.
Critics say well-run departments shouldn’t have to rely on retirees especially in leadership positions. They should be replenishing their ranks and training their own to re-fill those leadership positions.
Governor Susana Martinez released this statement on the legislation:
“As a former prosecutor for 25 years, I know how important it is to have more police officers on our streets to fight crime, and that is why I will call on lawmakers to pass return to work legislation this year. By passing this legislation, we will add yet another tool to help us recruit and retain police officers all across the state to keep our families safe.” – Governor Susana Martinez