Gina Cannon is one of 156 disabled Baltimore police officers who will be fired unless they apply for retirement. If she retires, says the Baltimore sun, she would be paid either 67 percent of her salary tax-free or 37.5 percent of her salary minus taxes, depending on what an arbitrator decides. For Cannon, 37, who earns about $54,000 a year, the larger pension would be a little more than $36,000; the smaller pension would be less than half that. Such financial uncertainty for police being pushed toward retirement is driving a wedge between the city and its 3,200 officers.
The retirements will eliminate all permanent light-duty positions–five percent of the force– and save money so the department can hire more patrol officers. Cannon was patrolling in 1998 when a man she was questioning pulled out a handgun and used it to beat her head and face. When she returned to work in about six months, she responded to a domestic violence incident where a man was threatening a woman with a board. Cannon froze, and she started to cry. Her supervisors moved her to a desk job, and when she failed a virtual reality training session — which included a threatening scenario — that job became permanent.