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Officers Policing Certain Agencies Get Lesser Benefits

The Washington Post via YellowBrix

February 25, 2010

WASHINGTON – Kimberly Munley and Mark Todd didn’t hesitate when they got a call about the Fort Hood shooter.

As cops on patrol, it was their duty to rush toward the danger. Munley was shot in three places, now walks with a cane and may not be able to work as a patrol officer again. They have been praised widely for their actions and were guests of President Obama at his State of the Union address last month.

But despite the accolades, the service they provide and the life-threatening injuries they risk, Todd and Munley aren’t considered cops in the fullest sense.

They wear a badge and carry a gun and you’d better stop when they tell you to, but like thousands of others who protect federal facilities and the people who use them, Todd and Munley don’t get the enhanced pay and retirement benefits that other federal officers enjoy.

Only if they die doing their job do they get the greater recognition they deserve.

Police officers who are federal employees working in several agencies, including the Defense Department, log longer hours for less pay than other federal officers, according to the American Federation of Government Employees.

They are not classified as federal law enforcement officers, said Gerald Hutt, president of AFGE’s law enforcement committee. With that classification, they could retire with 20 years of service, instead of 25. He couldn’t say how much more the average law enforcement officer makes nationally, but Munley said it’s a difference of $3,000 to $8,000 at Fort Hood, Tex.

The Defense Department said that it “uses Office of Personnel Management classification guidance to determine the title, series, and grades of Police Officers,” and that “being classified as a police officer, does not guarantee that an individual will meet the special retirement coverage criteria established for law enforcement officers.”

Guidance like that can result in the Pentagon and other agencies missing out on some good people.

Hutt is an example. In addition to working with AFGE, in his day job he’s an Immigration and Customs Enforcement officer. When he wanted to move to another city, he said he didn’t even consider Defense Department police agencies because of their policy. And a 2009 Government Accountability Office report says attrition rates at the Homeland Security, Justice and Treasury departments for “law enforcement personnel receiving enhanced retirement benefits” averaged 3.2 percent for fiscal years 2004 through 2008, compared with 4.7 percent for “law enforcement-related personnel not receiving enhanced retirement benefits.”

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