ABC 15 in Phoenix completed a two-part series on the public safety retirement system. Earlier this year, members of the Arizona Police Association (APA) and the Arizona Highway Patrol Association (AHPA) spoke out about the $1.6 BILLION dollar loss to your retirement fund (Arizona Public Safety Personnel Retirement Fund – PSPRS). The APA uncovered the fund made risky investments with little to no oversight. As we went through documents and board meeting minutes, one person was to blame – Jack Cross, the manager of the fund. Additionally, it is the belief of our associations that tens of thousands of dollars in expenditures were taken from the fund with no approval. The state audit should be completed soon, so stay tuned for the findings.
Though this report is well researched, we do not believe that taxpayers are “bailing out” the fund. The $1.6 BILLION dollars are gone. As of this year, PSPRS was sustainable – though the fund lost an enormous amount of money over the years. Logically, public safety lost money the same time the general public lost their retirements (like 401[k]’s) due to the economic downturn. Legislation from this year is asking public safety employees to contribute more to our pensions with no pay increases. The State of Arizona entered into a contract with employees, and now is able to pay less into our retirement. Taxpayers are not recouping the $1.6 BILLION dollar loss and now have less liability to our pension system.
As you receive questions or comments from the public, friends and family, we hope that you share this information and your experiences as a member of DPS. The general public equates you to their jobs. They do not understand that you are a target for the mere fact that you wear a uniform or carry a badge. Laymen and women do not experience the sleepless nights after receiving a death threat from a gang member who wants to kill your kids. Citizens do not get to experience critical incidents that we have become numb to – like hearing on the radio a critical incident, interacting with a heinous sex offender, finding someone who committed suicide or responding to an accident with fatalities. Though these are difficult to relive with others, it is important to describe how public safety is distinctively different from those in the private sector.
If you want to learn more about PSPRS and the changes that have been made to your retirement, AHPA encourages you to attend a monthly meeting. We receive regular updates from our state affiliate (APA), our lobbyists and are monitoring the state audit findings.
FROM FEB. 2011: