Cops Extend Mandatory Retirement Waiver
The Capitol Police Board will extend through April 2004 a waiver allowing officers to remain on the force after reaching the mandatory retirement age, giving department brass more time to hire replacements.
The retirement requirement, which forces officers to leave the agency when they turn 57, was temporarily waived by Congress following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and October 2001 incident involving anthrax.
“We had gained so many more responsibilities, so to lose a large number of people at that time wouldn’t have been beneficial to anybody,” explained Capitol Police spokeswoman Jessica Gissubel. During that same period, the department was also facing high attrition rates as a number of officers transferred to other agencies, including the Transportation Security Administration.
The waiver was set to expire Dec. 31, but the board agreed to extend it an additional four months to provide more time to fill the vacancies that will be created. The officers who will be forced to leave hold “a broad range” of positions within the department, Gissubel said.
The Capitol Police Board — which consists of Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Bill Pickle, House Sergeant-at-Arms Bill Livingood, Architect of the Capitol Alan Hantman and Police Chief Terrance Gainer — does not need Congressional approval to extend the waiver.
“The chief recommended the waiver extension and the board considered it and approved it because they realized that doing so was beneficial to the department,” a spokeswoman for the Senate Sergeant-at-Arms office said.
House Administration Chairman Bob Ney (R-Ohio), who spearheaded the initial waiver, said his panel could look at the issue in coming months. However, he said he does not support a permanent extension of the retirement age.
“If they weren’t short on officers, there wouldn’t be a push to do it,” Ney said.