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Continued: Suburban police in Minnesota face retirements due to pension change

  • Article by: KELLY SMITHAND PAT PHEIFER , Star Tribune staff writers
  • Last update: September 2, 2014 - 6:16 PM

“No question about it,” he said. “Like an business model, we’re trying to minimize the impact.”

South of the river

Eagan Police Chief Jim McDonald said two people in his department retired in May to avoid the state changes. But they would have retired regardless. The only difference was, they chose to go in May rather than wait until July.

Many of the Eagan officers were hired in the 1980s when the suburb’s growth was at its highest. Those officers will be coming up to retirement soon, McDonald said, and will result in “a steady steam of people headed out the door.” But the chief doesn’t anticipate having any difficulty managing those retirements.

Jeff Long, police chief in Lakeville, said he knows of one captain who retired before the rules change took effect. But, he said, Lakeville is quite unlike Edina, where he formerly was chief, which lost five or six. Like Eagan, Long said he expects a large number of retirements in about 10 years.

West St. Paul police haven’t lost anyone to the changes. Spokesman Lt. Brian Sturgeon said it’s largely a younger department. He estimated the average age to be about 35.

Burnsville, too, has seen “minimal impact, if any at all,” Police Chief Eric Gieseke said.

In Inver Grove Heights, the Police Department hasn’t seen any impact from the PERA changes, but three years ago, the department lost its chief, a lieutenant who had 30 years on the force and two other veteran officers, each with 25 years of service, said Police Chief Larry Stanger.

“We had over 100 years of experience leave in less than 18 months,” he said

He said he’s heard from other agencies in Dakota County about trying to fill jobs in a competitive market, though. “Fortunately, that’s over for us now,” Stanger said.

Staff writer Matt McKinney contributed to this report. Kelly Smith • 612-673-4141

Twitter: @kellystrib

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