SUNY Police Officers Demand Equal Retirement Benefits

By Christine Souders |

Published 08/14 2014 07:38PM

Updated 08/14 2014 07:45PM

PLATTSBURGH, NY - Police officers on SUNY campuses across New York are waiting for Governor Andrew Cuomo to sign legislation that would make them part of the state and local police and fire retirement system.

Right now, university officers' retirement benefits fall under the public employer retirement system, allowing them to retire at age 62.

The police and fire retirement system allows workers to retire after 25 years of service.

"They enforce all the same laws and regulations. They enforce federal, state and local laws so I think they do just about everything that a city police officer or state police officer does as well," said Jake Goldblum, a graduate student.

SUNY police officers said they're looking for the same benefits as off-campus police.

"There's no reason for a new officer to want to say they would stay with an agency who wouldn't offer them equality in retirement benefits with other agencies," Chief Arlene Sabo, Chief of University Police of SUNY Plattsburgh.

Chief Sabo said many officers are using the department as training, and then leaving for better retirement benefits.

"The turnover rate which appears to be about 75 percent, perhaps would go down to 5 percent, so critical for maintaining a professional, experienced police forces," Sabo said.

In less than three years, three out of the four new SUNY university police officers recruits left for other agencies with enhanced retirement benefits.

Right now, recruiting and training one university police officer costs $85,000.

Transferring more than 580 state university police officers to the police and fire retirement benefit plan will also add up.

Around a million dollars a year over the next 10 years added to the state pension, according to the New York State's Comptroller's Office.

SUNY Plattsburgh students said they hope the state will do what it takes to keep officers, and keep their campus safe.

"To have police officers who are just as tied and invested in this community we have both within Plattsburgh and on campus I think is really important not only for their well-being and safety but for the students," said Robin Wonka, a graduate student

Now the legislation is on the governor's desk, but the elections play a big role here.

University officials said if it passes, it's likely to be after elections.

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