By Dustin Slaughter
The mayor’s spokesperson, Mark McDonald, told Newsworks reporter Aaron Moselle that a controversial program called “Deferred Retirement Option Plan” may be used to retain several retiring police officers for next year, who would otherwise be leaving the force.
The possible move may be employed to retain “institutional knowledge” in the lead up to a number of high-profile events, including an international Catholic families conference called The World Meeting of Families – which would likely include a visit from Pope Francis – as well as the Democratic National Convention.
McDonald says that extending the DROP is one of a number of options being explored in order to keep veteran officers on the force long enough to contribute to security planning for these types of events.
The move would not require any consultation with City Council. Mayor Michael Nutter would have the option of exercising it under the City Charter, if he decides the need falls under an “extraordinary circumstance” which may “[threaten] public health, safety and welfare,” according to Moselle’s article.
The Committee of Seventy, a Philadelphia-focused government watchdog group, says extending officers’ DROP payments should be unnecessary. Ellen Kaplan argues that plans to replace these officers should have already been in place five years ago.
The program has come under increased scrutiny and criticism for the financial strain it brings to a city already in fiscal crisis; a 2010 study found that the program had cost the city $258 million in pension costs. Nutter unsuccessfully pushed for an end to the program years after it was instituted by former mayor Ed Rendell.