SAFFORD – With 20 of the area’s 59 law enforcement officers and deputies eligible to retire within the next five years, Safford interim Chief Glen Orr wants his department to be proactive in getting new officers ready to hit the streets.
Telling the City Council it takes about one year from when a recruit passes testing to being able to work patrol independently, Orr said he would like to hire a new officer one year before an existing member of the department will retire.
He bases the timeline on the Deferred Retirement Option Plan, which allows governmental employees the option to receive a one-time lump sum payment at the time of retirement in addition to the monthly retirement benefit. Once entered into DROP, the officer must officially retire within five years.
Orr suggested that, in the fourth year of DROP, a new officer is hired and trained, and an existing officer be trained on the retiring offer’s duties – such as detective or school resource. This would allow for departmental and community continuity as well as keep the department fully staffed.
Safford has a department of 21 officers, with four currently in DROP and six eligible to DROP or retire within the next five years.
Thatcher has 11 officers, one in DROP and six eligible in five years; Pima has five officers, none currently in DROP and one eligible in the next five years; and Graham County Sheriff’s Office has 23 on staff, none in DROP and seven eligible in the next five years.
The proposal will be brought back before council for formal action at a later date.