Pensions: 'I Am A Retired Detroit Cop. I Hope This Will Not Happen To You.'
By Brian Lawrence
I am a retired Detroit Police Officer and this is my story. I hope this will not happen to you.
I joined the Detroit Police Department in 1986. At that time the city had an agreement with the federal government that made Detroit Police officers ineligible for social security and Medicare. We were led to believe that this was to our benefit. We were told that we would be taken care of upon retirement with a pension and health care.
Today, this is no longer true. Because of the bankruptcy filing by the city of Detroit, the Emergency Manager has stripped me and my fellow officers of our health-care coverage and is trying to void our pension income.
I spent more than 23 years with the Detroit Police Department as a patrol officer. I patrolled the streets of Detroit. I answered calls for service. I did not have an administrative job, nor was I an executive. I have seen some really horrific scenes and fought against the worst violent acts that most people cannot even imagine.
I have uncovered babies from shallow graves, responded to domestic-violence incidents, armed robberries, and murder scenes. I have discovered heads blown off, double ax murders, and mummified bodies in abandoned buildings.
I have saved people from being killed. I have found lost children and returned missing relatives to safety when they wandered, were carjacked, or were taken away by force. And I have come into your home or the home of someone you know when help, safety, and security were needed to help the citizens of Detroit.
I have lost more friends in the line of duty than anyone should.
I have been shot at more times than you can count; and
I have been run over.
I loved my job.
In 1996, I was on my way back to the First Precinct after patrolling the streets. I proceeded through a green light near the precinct and was struck by a vehicle that ran a red light. I do not remember much about the accident because I was in a coma for six days. I had a very serious head injury. I was off work for nearly one year, then on restricted duty for two years.
I had to learn to eat and swallow again.
My head injury caused memory issues, which I have to this day.
I did not take a duty or medical retirement at the advice of my union. They told me not to worry---the retirement insurance coverage would take care of me. But that’s not true anymore.
I do not think I am special, nor do I think I am unique. I am like every other patrol officer in any other city. I worked hard. I earned everything I have. I do not want anyone to “give” me anything.
I do want what I earned --- my health-care coverage and pension.
Thank you for listening. I hope you do not experience the same treatment.
Brian Lawrence grew up in Detroit and attended St. Mary's of Redford High School before joining the Detroit Police Department. He has a brother who is also a retired Detroit officer. Lawrence lives in Arizona.