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Pension change to prompt police retirements

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A statewide change in the way that police officers and firefighters draw their pensions is expected to prompt a wave of retirements, and it could lead to openings in departments across the state.

The St. Paul Police Department is responding by scheduling its very first job fair later this month. The Pioneer Press reports that 17 officers typically leave the department each year, but more than 30 officers could be retiring next year. St. Paul Police Federation President Dave Titus said the number could "be somewhere in the range of 45."

There are currently 583 St. Paul police officers, though the department's authorized strength is 610. The Department's website offers details and information for prospective applicants. St. Paul police last accepted new applications two years ago. The job fair will showcase specialized units, with demonstrations from the K-9 and bomb units. It will offer information about entry-level positions like parking-enforcement officers and community-liaison officers.

The retirements will occur because of a change in the law – put into place in the most recent legislative session – that impacts the public employees retirement system. It says that officers retiring after June 30 will face greater reductions in pensions if they choose to retire before age 55. Last summer, the Bedmidji Pioneer carried a story that anticipated that the statewide number of 10,500 cops could drop to 9,500 in a single day when the new rules go into place on June 1, 2014, making May 31, 2014 a big day for retirement parties.

The story estimated that 1,000-1,600 officers fall in the 50-55 age range, and could decide to retire for the pension benefits.

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