Assemblymember Richardson Introduces Legislation to Terminate Pensions for Officers Who Commit Illegal Acts

July 9, 2020

Assemblymember Diana C. Richardson (D-Brooklyn) announced that she, along with Senator Luis R. Sepúlveda, introduced legislation to terminate a law enforcement officer’s retirement benefits for malfeasance or serious misconduct (S.8583).

“The trust between law enforcement officers and communities of color has been broken, and one way to start rebuilding that trust is to ensure those who abuse their power face the consequences,” Richardson said. “This legislation aims to increase accountability by preventing officers who commit heinous crimes against the individuals they swore to protect from receiving their pension or other benefits. Police brutality is an epidemic, and this long-overdue change will help ensure justice is served.”

“Systemic racism, inadequate training, and abuse of power have all contributed to the scourge of police brutality that has torn apart families and communities across this country,” Sepúlveda said. “We are at a pivotal moment for anti-racist and police reform, and it is clear that law enforcement officers must face greater accountability. Taxpayer dollars should not be funding public benefits for state employees who commit heinous or illegal actions. As such, we are calling for an immediate termination of retirement or other benefits for law enforcement officers who do not follow the values or laws of our state and country they are supposed to serve.”

Unfortunately, there have been far too many incidents where law enforcement officers have been accused of allegations of misconduct toward civilians, predominantly those who are Black and Latinx. A number of these interactions have resulted in the tragic loss of life. Currently, if an officer is terminated for serious misconduct, they are often still eligible to receive their retirement benefits.

Richardson’s bill would ensure that a law enforcement officer’s termination of their duties for serious misconduct would result in the forfeiture of their pension. This follows the Legislature’s passage of a historic police reform legislative package, which was recently signed into law.