As communities around the nation observed National Night Out to fight against crime, State Rep. Chelsa Wagner (D-Brookline) introduced legislation that would allow municipalities facing budget constraints to put more officers on the streets.
The Return to Service Act (House Bill 18), would allow retired police officers to return to part-time duty without losing their pension benefits.
"My bill would allow experienced officers to perform important police functions at greatly reduced cost, while freeing up active officers to keep our streets safe," Rep. Wagner said.
"Our municipalities are hamstrung by budgetary challenges when it comes to hiring new officers. The City of Pittsburgh, for instance, faces tight spending limits under Act 47," Rep. Wagner said. "But this doesn't change the need for greater police protection in our neighborhoods."
Current law prohibits retired officers from returning to police work while still collecting pension benefits. Under Rep. Wagner's bill, retired officers would be permitted to work up to 800 hours a year without losing benefits.
"The rigors of full-time police work are taxing physically and mentally. But officers who retire in their 50s can still make great contributions with their knowledge and abilities," Ms. Wagner said.
She said retired officers could perform traffic control, community relations, and confidential clerical work that cannot be done by civilians, among many other potential duties. Similar programs in cities around the country have resulted in the return of hundreds of officers.
Rep. Wagner credited Pittsburgh Police Commander Catherine McNeilly with suggesting the legislation.
"Police departments need the help retired officers can provide. Communities are forgoing improved police protection because of the costs, and this can be a major solution to the problem," Ms.