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January 15, 2015

Pension-Gap Closer

Full, unedited letter to the Editor

By Pat Lynch

New York City police officers appreciate the strong support that the Post has shown them over these past difficult weeks, but your Jan. 9 editorial describing the disability pension benefit changes being considered in City Hall and Albany as a "bribe" was‎ disappointing and misleading.

This change would correct an unintended consequence of former Governor Patterson’s ill-considered attempt to address pension issues by way of executive veto, which has resulted in an illogical benefit scheme that affords recently-hired police officers who are permanently disabled in the line of duty a lower level of benefit than every other police officer in New York State.  

Not a single elected official in the City or state has attempted to justify this disparity. Even Governor Paterson has said that something must be done to correct this unjust situation.  The proposed benefit changes, which were first introduced at the state level last spring, represent a common-sense fix that corrects the inequity that state legislators understood was engendered by the veto. 

The measure had received strong support from Council members even before the recent attacks on police officers.  The Mayor, for his part, has no role in the local approval process, a job that is consigned to the Council.

The events of the past three weeks should leave no doubt that all police officers face the same extraordinary risks, no matter when they were hired or where in the state they may be deployed. The New Yorkers who understand this reality also understand that they must bear the cost of an adequate disability benefit for those officers who sacrifice their health and their family’s financial security in order to keep this city safe.  When police officers see even their staunchest allies deriding this solemn obligation as a “pension sweetener,” it only further damages their already flagging morale.

Patrick J. Lynch
NYC Patrolmen's Benevolent Association