Mayor Garcetti announces improvements to retirement program for police officers and firefighters

LOS ANGELES — The City and labor leaders have reached an agreement to make the Deferred Retirement Option Plan (DROP) more effective, and less susceptible to abuse, Mayor Eric Garcetti announced today.

DROP — approved by L.A. voters in 2001 — is a program designed to retain experienced police officers and firefighters, and help avoid attrition problems by allowing them to begin accruing pension benefits while they stay in their jobs for up to five additional years.

The adjustments to DROP — which Mayor Garcetti proposed and pushed — improve the program by requiring that enrollees be on active duty to be eligible. The previous rules did not establish such requirements.

“DROP is an important program that keeps our best officers and firefighters on the job longer — now we have a chance to make it even more effective,” said Mayor Garcetti. “These improvements will prevent abuse, and help us make sure we’re putting every available resource into making our city safer for Angelenos. I am grateful to our officers and firefighters for their collaboration, and for the sacrifices they make to keep us safe every day.”

The new requirements, which are scheduled to go into effect early next year, pending City Council approval, make participants ineligible for their pension accrual if they serve fewer than 112 hours on active duty in a given month. If they incur a serious injury in the line of duty that admits them to the hospital for three days or longer, they can continue to retain eligibility for up to 12 months.

"I previously called on our public safety partners to work quickly with us to eliminate abuses in the DROP program,” said Councilmember Paul Koretz. “I am pleased that these proposed revisions to the DROP program do just that.”  

"The residents of Los Angeles expect us to protect their taxpayer dollars," said Councilmember Mitchell Englander. "I'm grateful that we were able to work collaboratively with first responders and their labor representatives to reform DROP. These long overdue changes will ensure that we are able to continue retaining experienced law enforcement and emergency response personnel while eliminating any loopholes or potential for abuse."

The City finalized the new DROP improvements through a tentative agreement reached with the Los Angeles Police Protective League, United Firefighters of Los Angeles City, the Los Angeles Police Command Officers Association, the Los Angeles Fire Department Chief Officers Association, the Los Angeles Airport Peace Officers Association, the Los Angeles Airport Police Supervisors Association, the Airport Police Command Officers Association, the Los Angeles Port Police Association and the Los Angeles Port Police Command Officers Association.

Under the agreement, if participants leave active duty, and become ineligible for their pension accrual, they can come back to work and make up that accrual for up to 30 additional months, once the standard five-year period expires.

In addition to these improvements, the City is conducting a financial analysis of DROP to ensure that it continues to be cost-neutral — a process that must occur by law every five years. Mayor Garcetti has expressed a strong commitment to completing the study quickly, and taking any necessary steps to keep DROP cost-neutral, as the voters intended.