One can argue that state and local employees don't deserve such a "rewarding" retirement package when times are tough for all right now, and that may be the case for certain types of job descriptions. I strongly argue, though, that police officers and firefighters who serve in their designated fields for 25 years deserve every penny of their pension.
Every day, these men and women risk their lives doing what they do. Ask yourself how much is your life worth, and would you like a job that involves putting your health or even life in danger every single day you go to work for a minimum of 25 years?
Do you also realize that, statistically, police officers do not reach the average life expectancy of others not in the police field and that the years of stress one endures as an officer shortens their life span?
These brave men and women don't get paid near enough for the extreme nature of their jobs. Most police I know certainly do not get the respect from the public they deserve, either, since most of their encounters are with people breaking the law and causing problems in general.
How many times are the police portrayed in a negative light on the nightly news? More so than not, these men and women are good, do good, and keep our streets safe for law-abiding citizens. Their salaries certainly do not, in my opinion, reflect the ongoing sacrifices they make to serve and protect the public.
Any changes that may be made to the retirement pensions of police and firefighters should only be made to future hires. Raising the age to 55 instead of 50 seems somewhat reasonable, but do not argue that they don't deserve the "almost full pay" they will get when they do retire. These men and women decide to enter these fields for many reasons, and if one perk is in a decent retirement package, they certainly are among a very few select that deserve every single bit of it.
So the next time this topic comes up, think about how you would feel going to work wondering if this day on the job would be your last because your duties to protect and serve cost you your life. Think about the sacrifice to your family if you did not come home from work. Think about it as you push papers next time you go to work in a comfortable office, protected from danger, complaining about outrageous pensions of police and firefighters.
• Lisa Pedranti, wife of a hard-working police officer.