Derek Chauvin, the Minneapolis police officer who held a knee to George Floyd’s neck for about nine minutes before he died, is still eligible for his $1 million-plus retirement pension, even if he’s found guilty on charges of murdering Floyd.
“Neither our Board nor our staff have the discretion to increase, decrease, deny or revoke benefits,” a Minnesota Public Employees Retirement Association spokeswoman told CNN.
Regardless of how or why an officer is terminated, they remain eligible for future benefits unless they forfeit these benefits to refund their contributions during employment, according to the Association.
44-year-old Chauvin could start receiving benefits of around $50,000 annually at age 55, according to CNN.
These benefits are funded by taxpayers, workers and investment returns.
Chauvin has been charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and manslaughter, and was expected to plead guilty, but that deal has fallen apart, per the Hennepin County prosecutor’s office, ABC News reports.
“Pension forfeiture for misconduct is pretty rare,” D. Bruce Johnson, a professor of law at George Mason University who has authored studies on the subject, told CNN. “With this terrible tragedy, it might be a good time to push in this direction.”
Public safety pensions are notably large, constituting a sizable portion of giant local and state budgets for police. With the movement to defund the police, these pensions will likely be a point of debate, especially given the fact that Derek Chauvin, who could be found guilty of murder, remains eligible for his pension without legislative changes.
Less than 50% of states will rescind officer benefits if a cop is found guilty of egregious misconduct like sexual crimes involving children, but no state has any sort of grounds to rescind officer pension for use of excessive force. Though Johnson says in his coauthored research report that “states with stronger pension forfeiture laws experience lower rates of police misconduct,” admitting that more data on the matter is required to conclusively prove this.
PENSION FORFEITURE AND POLICE MISCONDUCT (Journal of Law, Economics and Policy)
— to www.forbes.com