Staten Island Advance
July 12, 2002

PBA wants ex-cops to hit the books, teach children

Union leaders lobbying lawmakers to allow retired officers to become teachers while collecting pensions

By Devlin Barrett
Associated Press

Up against the blackboard, kid!

Some retired police officers may soon be turning in their badges for lesson books under a new proposal to allow ex-officers to work as teachers in the city's public school system.

The police union, the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, is trying to convince state legislators in Albany to pass legislation that would permit retired cops to become teachers while still collecting their police pensions.

Under current law, a retired officer is not allowed to take another city job while receiving pension checks.

The measure, which would give a whole new meaning to the phrase "You have the right to remain silent," was moved through a City Council committee Wednesday and now requires authorization from the state government.

"It would be a win for our retirees," said PBA President Pat Lynch, "and a big win for the city's school system, which is suffering a significant shortage of teachers."

The union noted that most of its retirees come out of the ranks with a college degree -- and plenty of real-life experience that would come in handly inside an unruly classroom.

PBA officials said they believe teaching is an attractive profession to many of their retired members.

"Most of these police officers retire when they're relatively young, in their 40s," said PBA spokesman Al O'Leary.

"They would be perfectly suited for the job of teaching."

Board of Education officials estimate that if the measure were approved, it would draw about 100 ex-officers a year into classrooms.

"We obviously applaud any type of effort that would increase the number of qualified teachers in our classrooms," said Board of Ed spokesman Kevin Ortiz.

A spokesman for the United Federation of Teachers declined to comment on the proposal.