October 16, 2011


In fall 2006, voters narrowly approved an upgraded pension plan intended only for uniformed officers in the Knox County Sheriff’s Office.

A committee that met outside public view later expanded the eligibility rules, according to records. Key decisions were made in small committee meetings — meetings that some members today said they can’t even recall.

Little notice went out to the public as the plan came together, except for a piece of paper tacked onto a wall down a hallway of the City County Building.

And when it came time to bless the final package, one of the county’s biggest expenditures in decades, the Knox County Commission approved it without deliberation. Some of those who voted for it directly benefited by it or had family members who would benefit by it.

And now, the Uniformed Officers Pension Plan, or UOPP, costs taxpayers $8.2 million a year — almost three times what was first projected, figures show. Funding costs are expected to rise even more.

They always tell you it’s for police and firemen, but somehow when all is said and done the money goes somewhere else. “What a small few cautioned about five years ago has indeed come to pass in 2011: Knox County is carrying a multimillion-dollar burden. And some county leaders wonder if it’s even worth keeping.”

Related: Widely cited study on law enforcement mortality turns out not to exist:

When the local Fraternal Order of Police lobbied local leaders and the public for a better pension plan to benefit county deputies, members hammered on law enforcement mortality rates. They told commissioners, residents and the media that the average police officer lived to be just age 59. They said the information was based on a report by the U.S. Department of Justice. No one questioned it.

Even today, on law enforcement message boards across the country, commenters continue to cite age 59 as unadulterated fact and with little or no attribution.

The DOJ, however, says it never conducted such a study.

Read the whole thing.

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