WASHINGTON (WJLA) – Some D.C. police officers who are in the process of retiring are facing tough times; they haven’t received paychecks in months.
Jerome Lucas, 66, worked as a police officer in the District for some 40 years. Now, he feels like the city he protected for a generation has abandoned him.
“I’m between a rock and a hard place,” he said. “It’s been eight weeks of no pay.”
In June, the city decided—for no clear reason—to start enforcing an old law that makes Metropolitan Police Department officers retire at 64. Union officials say 17 officers, including Lucas, were forced to retire. They had to wait until the end of July before hearing that Mayor Vincent Gray and the deputy mayor had rejected their appeals to continue working. Now, they have to wait for the city’s Retirement Board to make their retirement official.
Lucas says all of these delays are hitting the recent retirees hard, because during this process, which could take months to resolve, they aren’t getting a salary or pension.
“One of the guys is applying for welfare,” Lucas said. “Another one says he’s out of funds, and basically everybody is having financial hardships.”
D.C. Police Union Chairman Delroy Burton said, “Ultimately, the mayor is at fault, because he has the ability to fix it and he’s refused to.”
Burton says this newly enforced retirement policy—which he calls a shameless slap in the face to model officers—is dragging on, taking 30 to 60 days longer than it should, and in the process, hurting men who sacrificed so much for the city’s safety.
“They’re causing real harm to some of these guys, because they don’t have the cash reserves to deal with not having any income at all over this period of time,” Burton said.
Lucas added, “Basically, it tells me you can’t trust anybody. I’ve lost trust in the establishment.”
After ABC 7 News asked a lot of tough questions and pushed for answers from a number of D.C. agencies, including the mayor’s office and the police department, a representative of the D.C. Retirement Board said that the officers who were forced to retire will have their cases looked at on Monday, Aug. 25. A D.C. Police Union official told ABC 7 News that if everything goes according to plan, the retirees could see their pension checks 30 to 60 days after their cases are examined.