Enrollees in a controversial retirement program spiked during the month of February following high speculation according to the Los Angeles Times.
Deferred Retirement Option Plan, better known as DROP, was created in 2002 to allow veteran officers and firefighters to remain in their positions and essentially cost taxpayers less. The LA Times investigation found that nearly half of the enrollees in the program have filed workers compensation claims and then took extended injury leaves. This all occurring at nearly twice their usual pay.
Ailments range from bad backs, sore knees, and other bodily issues related to aging. The average absence is 10 months, while hundreds have stayed out more than a year.
Capt. Tia Morris and her husband who is also a detective, came under fire when they filed claims for carpal tunnel syndrome and missed more than two years of work on disability and sick leave. The couple was allowed to nearly double their pay by keeping their salaries and collect their pension. Instead of recovering from their ailments at home, the couple used their paid leave to recover in their condo in Cabo San Lucas. They also used their time to start a family theater production company.
Early February, LA Times published an investigation into the DROP program and subsequently, speculation regarding its elimination came into question. The month saw its largest one month class of enrollees since its inception in May 2002. 129 people signed up for the program, a huge increase considering the average monthly enrollment is 25.
In response to the original LA Times report posted in February, members of the City Council committee that negotiates contracts with police and firefighters and Mayor Eric Garcetti have asked for an investigation into the program. Their goal is to determine whether is achieving its goal of officer and firefighter retention at a low cost for the city.