I've fielded a ton of calls and e-mails in the last few days from readers who are angry about city cops who are keeping their pension benefits even after they've been fired from the force or arrested for committing serious crimes.
One reader asked today, "Can't you find out if anyone is going to do something about this?" Here's an excerpt of the answer that will appear in tomorrow's Daily News:
One after another, stories about bad cops have fallen around the city like dominoes lately, each one more disturbing than the next.
There has, however, been one common thread: many of those who have been fired from the force or arrested have had no fear of losing their pension.
Some of accused face charges that range from murder to rape to soliciting sex from a minor.
As it stands now, the city code doesn't call for a city employee - be it a cop, firefighter or trash collector - to lose his pension, even if he's convicted of one of those crimes.
Count City Councilman Frank Rizzo among those who are wondering if the code needs to be changed.
"I just began discussing this my staff today," Rizzo said earlier today.
"It's something that we're going to look into after the [city] budget is finished," he said. "We'll probably have to hold hearings."
Rizzo said he was bothered by a recent spate of stories about cops who have retired from the force a day before they were arrested.
Many have interpreted the sudden retirements as last ditch attempts on the cops' behalf at saving their pension benefits.
Officer Anthony Floyd, a 14-year veteran, retired on Tuesday, and was charged the following day with assaulting and harrassing a woman he was dating.
Another longtime cop, Tyrone Wiggins, retired a day before he was arrested on rape charges in November.
"We can't have cops retiring one day, then getting arrested the next," Rizzo said.
Even cops fired for gross misconduct are not blocked from receiving a pension. Also this week, Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey fired Sgt. Robert Ralston after the 21-year veteran admitted that he shot himself last month and created a phony story about being shot by a black man with corn rows.
Chapter 22-1300 of the city code states that a city employee could lose retirement benefits only if he or she pleads or is found guilty of perjury; accepting or offering a bribe; engaging in graft or corruption; theft, embezzlement or willful misapplication of city funds; malfeasance in office or engaging in conspiracy to commit any of the above.
Former city managing director Phil Goldsmith said that the city code should be amended to include harsh penalties for employees who committ serious felonies.
"If someone has violated the public's trust, they should lose their benefits," he said.