Some have incorrectly linked Greensboro Police Chief Wayne Scott’s retirement to demands from speakers at City Council meetings and others that Scott be fired over the way police handled the incident involving the death of Marcus Deon Smith on Sept. 8, 2018.

But before that event occurred, Scott was privately telling people of his approximate retirement date. The timing of his retirement is in line with what Scott was saying well over a year ago and it makes sense.

Although in this era of the 24 hour news cycle anything that happened last week, much less four years ago seems to have been forgotten, in this case it is informative to look at the retirement of former Greensboro Police Chief Ken Miller.  Even though he received a substantial raise, Miller retired because he said he couldn’t afford to give up the supplemental retirement benefits that are mandated for law enforcement officers by the state.

According to state law the local government is required to pay retired law enforcement officers a supplement from their retirement date until they turn 62 unless they take a job with another government entity in the state retirement system.  The supplement is .85 percent of the officer’s salary at the time of retirement multiplied by the number of years of service. For instance a law enforcement officer with a salary of $170,000 a year who had in 30 years of service would receive, in addition to the full state retirement benefits, $43,350 each year until he or she turned 62 when the payments stop.

That kind of bonus for retiring as soon as one is eligible is an incentive that would cause most folks to retire.

According to Greensboro Human Resources Director Jamiah Waterman, Greensboro police officers are eligible for full retirement benefits after having 30 years in the state retirement system or upon turning 55 as long as they have at least five years of service.

For local governments, it is what they call an unfunded state mandate.  The state has mandated that the supplemental retirement benefits be paid for law enforcement officers, but the payments are all made with local money.