Some call it the "Retire for a Day Loophole." Others just call it double-dipping. Under the Deferred Retirement Option Plan, or DROP, members of the Los Angeles police and fire departments can collect both their salary and their pension at the same time.
Here's how it works. Let's say a police officer formally retires. Under DROP, that officer may return to work the next day and begin earning a salary again. Meanwhile, the pension that he would have begun collecting instead goes into a special account at 5 percent interest. Because he is actually still working, both the officer and the city continue contributing money to his pension fund. The officer can remain in DROP for up to five years, at which time he gets the accumulated pension check plus interest.
Public records obtained by SoCal Connected show the top pension earner so far was a fire chief, who cashed out with more than $900,000. That's in addition to the money he earned in salary during those five years. Quite a few others carried similarly large balances when they exited DROP.
Below is a list of the 20 DROP participants with the largest pension payouts. You can get the full list of more than 2800 participants with their ranks and earnings (no names) here.
Watch the full investigation here.
In an additional point of contention for those both inside and outside the police department, a handful of sworn officers enticed back to work by the DROP program are now performing regular civilian duties, including running photocopies of reports and other clerical tasks. It should be noted that of more than 500 officers currently active in DROP, only 20 have been so assigned, and most of these devote only a portion of their time to those duties. They are listed in the table below by rank, with the civilian tasks performed, the amount of time spent on those tasks, and the salary they currently collect as a sworn officer.