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Disgraced police officers still collect taxpayer-funded retirement

By   /   August 14, 2013  /   News  /   3 Comments

By Kirsten Adshead | Wisconsin Reporter

MADISON — For the second time this summer, a Madison police officer is stepping down amid allegations of wrongdoing, but the officer will probably keep collecting a check from taxpayers.

Public officials who participate in the Wisconsin Retirement System continue to get their pensions and retirement benefits even if they are fired or convicted of a crime, said Mark Lamkins, director of communications and legislation for the state Department of Employee Trust Funds.

WHO PAYS?: Summer 2013 has brought a string of cases involving law enforcement officers getting into legal trouble. But according to Wisconsin law, getting fired — or even being convicted of a crime — doesn’t keep a public official from collecting taxpayer-funded retirement benefits.

“State law protects the individual because this is a benefit they’ve earned (regardless) of perhaps the quality of their work or whatever else may be going on with that individual,” Lamkins said.

Late last week, the Madison police department announced that Officer Morris Reid opted to retire after an investigation showed he had:

  • Engaged in an on-duty relationship with a female
  • Mishandled two pieces of evidence
  • Caused an unlawful disturbance at a friend’s residence
  • Not addressed a domestic violence situation he was made aware of
  • Participated in a law enforcement activity involving the boyfriend of a woman with whom he was involved.

Reid hasn’t been on active duty since the accusations were made in October, said Lt. Dan Olivias of the Madison police department’s professional standards and internal affairs office.

“He was on administrative leave while the investigation was ongoing, but then since he signed his retirement agreement, he’s been using his own (accrued vacation and comp) time,” Olivias said.

Reid’s retirement is effective Aug. 30.

Taxpayers, though, likely will continue paying Reid for the foreseeable future.

Information on who participates in the WRS and how much money they receive each month isn’t public.

But Reid’s nine-year service for the Madison police makes him eligible for the state retirement system.

Reid’s earnings totaled $83,699.03 in 2012, $82,533.91 in 2011 and $75,003.22 in 2010, according to the city of Madison finance department.

While multiple factors can affect a person’s monthly retirement benefits, Reid’s age, earnings and experience mean he is likely to get just more than $1,000 a month — $12,000 annually – in retirement.

Reid is at least the second Madison police officer this summer to take early retirement after being investigated for wrongdoing.

Stephen Heimsness was exonerated in a shooting death in November, but he could have faced termination stemming from accusations that he violated several policies.

Heimsness is seeking early retirement due to post-traumatic stress disorder stemming from the November shooting of Paul Heenan.

If his request for disability benefits is approved, he could get $57,200.04 annually, a Wisconsin Reporter analysis showed.

Reid and Heimsness are just two of several recent examples of law enforcement officers with legal woes.

Kim H. Hoenisch, a former probation agent and wife of former Marathon County Sheriff Randy Hoensisch, was sentenced to a 1 1/2 years in prison after being charged with three felonies, including misconduct in office.

Former Wisconsin Rapids Police Lieutenant Steven Lowe’s body was found Monday, and police say he killed himself with a nail gun. Although he never faced formal charges, police a few days earlier had arrested him in connection with a child sex scandal, according to WKOW TV.

And Dennis Jenks, a former Mount Horeb police lieutenant, has pleaded not guilty to charges of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old boy, according to the Wisconsin State Journal.

Contact Kirsten Adshead at [email protected]

 

Click here to LEARN HOW TO STEAL OUR STUFF!

Kirsten formerly served as staff reporter for Watchdog.org.

  • steeljaw

    You have to wonder why these creeps aren’t in jail……………A private citizen would be. There should be a penalty for “violating the public trust”.

  • scott

    I’m just amazed that he has 10+ months of accrued vacation and comp time.

  • BARBBIE

    No matter what the case…an individual pays into the retirement system and he/she deserves to be able to collect those monies. It might seem wrong..but I think you cannot link one thing to another, Get rid of the guy and then the benefits stop. But to deny anyone benefits for work performed is not right.