Yakima's Police Chief says an early retirement program has allowed the department to avoid a potentially huge problem in its ranks.
YAKIMA, WA - Yakima's Police Chief says an early retirement program has allowed the department to avoid a potentially huge problem in its ranks.
It all comes down to age inside the police department. Eight of the top ranking officers were thinking about retirement around the same time. But an early retirement program helped save the city money and avoid a possible huge gap in the department.
You may not have noticed it but this has been happening more often lately. In September, Mike Pollard became Yakima's newest Lieutenant and the timing was no mistake. When Police Chief Dominic Rizzi first took over the job two years ago, he immediately had to deal with some difficult news.
"Potentially we could lose our entire command staff," Chief Rizzi said.
That means 4 Lieutenants and 3 Captains retiring at nearly the same time. Leaving no experienced Lieutenants to fill the higher Captain role, potentially making Yakima hire new captains from other, smaller departments.
"They don't know the department," Chief Rizzi said. "They don't know the personnel, they don't know the policy and procedures."
So the chief came up with a succession plan. If the 4 Lieutenants retired quickly and the 3 Captains, a level above, held off ending their careers for a few more years, then the new Lieutenants could get the experience to become future Captains.
"When you lose them, it's not just how do you replace them with the lower rank, it's how do you replace that experience?" Chief Rizzi said.
So far 3 Lieutenants have taken advantage of the $50,000 incentive for early retirement but no need to worry, the bonus actually ends up saving the city money with offsetting salaries.
"It works out really really good," Chief Rizzi said.
In the end, it worked out for everyone; the police department, the city and your wallet. Chief Rizzi says he hopes that when he finally decides to retire, there will be up 8 viable candidates inside the department ready to fill his role.