Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Long Blue Wave

So everyone keeps saying that there is an impending wave of police retirements coming for the City of Pittsburgh's police force.   I just wonder if those anticipated retirements are incorporated into the pension actuary's assumptions when calculating pension liability?  Lots more early retirements = bigger pension liability. Also there is a sidebar to that story that it didn't get into, but if the police force can't keep up its active personnel numbers there is a direct hit on the state's contribution to the pension fund. How much does that add up to?  Just asking.

Actually, the story is not quite what it seems and is great case study of demography and policy. Looks to me like a long wave cycle.

There probably is an impending wave, or at least mini-wave of retirements.  Is it because of some vast unhappiness or other current issue in the police force? Maybe not.   Some or most of this should be an expected result of some decisions now seemingly long ago.  In 1993, facing impending financial crisis, the Masloff adminsitration offered the police force an earily retirement option.  That, coupled with the fact that the force at the time was disproportionally near retirement eligibiligy because there had not been much hiring in a long time within the force, both factors contributed to a large number of retirements at the time.  The force then had to hire a lot of younger folks to make up for the personnel loss.  It was a big problem at the time as much of the subsequent years the police force was made up of very junior folks without the senior leadership it had been used to.

So now, we are coming up on precisely 20 years since the hiring that happened back then. Not really a surprise that some or many of that cohort will retire when first eligible.  As the story highlights, lots of options for police officers to make better wages elsewhere so there is plenty of incentive to leave even without retirement vesting.  With it, the reasons to stay drop a lot.

So I like the story looking to current retirement data from the city to try and back up the story.  The first pass said the retirements from 2010 don't show any surge with only 15 total retirements.  I believe that, but the point is that in this case there is strong reason for future trends to be nonlinear in their trend.  The story also hints at that trend saying there were 5 retirements so far this year.. if they mean the calendar year if you ratio that out?

One lesson is that you really see how policy decisions have impacts years in the future.  The Masloff folks were really just trying to balance their virtually unbalanceable budget, but the costs are still being paid for the early retirement plan of 20 years ago. 


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do you think that this might be contributing to the retirement buzz?

Good evening to everyone,

Please find the attached Black Political Empowerment Project's (B-PEP's) letter encouraging all Pittsburgh City Council members to attend both the February 10th City Council Meeting and the February 15th Public Hearing also the News Release encouraging citizens to do the same.

For your review I have attached the Proposed Amendments to section 116.02(e) Powers and Duties of Bureau Chiefs and the Director of Public Safety.

I have also attached a flier for the two dates, please distribute to your network.

Please read more details below and most of all COME OUT AND SUPPORT POLICE REFORM!


Pittsburgh City Council will hold two meetings in the coming week on an unprecedented bill that proposes an annual report from the Chief of Police to the citizens of Pittsburgh, giving important information about police performance.

Bill 2010-0234, originally sponsored by City Council Member Ricky Burgess (Ninth District), was created with input from community activists, young and old; and professional and academic law enforcement experts. The annual report would provide information such as the number of traffic stops and pedestrian stop broken down by race, age and gender of the person stopped. The report would also include the make-up of the current police force broken by race, ethnicity, age and gender.
Bill 2010-0234 as amended also contains provisions defining the role of off-duty Pittsburgh police officers, procedures to prevent a conflict of interest in cases where an arresting officer files assault charges against the arrestee, and in cases where strip-searches are carried out.

An annual report by the Chief of Police will increase public safety by increasing citizen confidence in the police force. We, as citizens, would finally be able to knowledgeably express concern and/or express our appreciation to the Bureau sworn to protect and serve us. The time is NOW.

Come out and urge your City Council member (phone numbers below) as well as your friends, neighbors and co-workers to attend the public events below.
Forward this email to your contacts!

Thursday, February 10, 2011 @ 10am
City County Building
City Council Chambers - 5th Floor
414 Grant Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15219
The City Council Post-Agenda meeting - a meeting held for City Council members and open to the public to hear expert and constituent testimony on a current public issue or legislation, in this case on the amended Burgess bill (# 2010-0234) described above.
* See speakers list at end of Alert. If you are unable to attend, the Post-Agenda Hearing can be viewed on television or via web-streaming on local cable station – PCTV Channel 21.
City Council members must know their constituents support Burgess Bill 2010-0234 and want the police department to be held accountable on and off the job and will not tolerate abuses of power or the mistreatment of citizens!

on Police Reporting & Accountability
Tuesday, February 15, 2011 @ 6pm
Shiloh Community Missionary Baptist Church
6940 Frankstown Ave. (at Moorland)
Pittsburgh, PA 15208

Wednesday, February 09, 2011 6:05:00 PM  
Blogger Vannevar said...

It's not very different from the ATC system. In 1981 Pres. Reagan fired most of the controllers for striking. Fast-forward to 2011 and the monolithic demographic bump is approaching (mandatory) retirement at age 56.

In both cases, what seemed like a solution at the time became the next problem over time.

Chris, can I ask you to please expound on the "Long Wave Cycle" phenomena?

Wednesday, February 09, 2011 7:19:00 PM  
Blogger C. Briem said...

I am not sure that dumping press releases whole into comments is cool.  I'd rather not start deleting posts, so I may not start with this one... but maybe I will have to articulate a policy.

Long waves...  to a degree there is no secret sauce.  There are lots of generational wave phenomena and the reasons are often obvious.. manadatory retirement being a good example.  What may be more suprising is that the results are unexpected. In cases such as the ATC's, or possibly the Pittsburgh police, the consequences of past actions should not be all that much of a suprise. Other examples....  Baby boom begat the echo boom is one big example.  Maybe this is all more akin to a Kuznet's Cycle?  Maybe to connect to the knitting here.  I think a lot of the "Pittsburgh Story" of late is not coincidentially timed to be reaching a crescendo nearly a career-span since the implosion of steel employment in the region.  That or it is more an example of regional termination shock.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011 7:44:00 PM  
Anonymous MH said...

Given that this press release is already on the web, a you'd think a link would have worked fine.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011 9:17:00 PM  
Anonymous MH said...

Also, I think the Wiz is right about comments dropping. Maybe making a joke about the Kondratiev wave is some kind of universal trigger for the spam filter. I would post it would be up and then I'd hit refresh and it would be gone.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011 9:55:00 PM  
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