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Pension for Oklahoma's law enforcement officers set to increase

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Posted at 9:35 PM, May 31, 2024

TULSA, Okla. — The pensions for law enforcement officers across Oklahoma are set to increase by 15%.

That comes after the legislature overrode Gov. Stitt’s veto of Senate Bill 102.

Gov. Stitt sees it as financial irresponsibility and police officers see it as a tool to increase recruiting efforts.

Outside the Tulsa Police Department Riverside Division facility, a large banner reads “We Are Hiring.”

However, the obvious challenges of policing are turning people away from the profession.

Mark Nelson, the president of the Oklahoma Fraternal Order of Police, thinks the increase in pensions will help recruiting efforts.

“It’s generally accepted that better benefits help recruit better people,” Nelson said.

Stitt believes any boost to recruiting would be canceled out by early retirees.

“If I can get 90% of my salary, it’s gonna encourage me to retire now,” Stitt said.

Nelson cites the importance of mental health. According to data from the National Institutes of Health, one in seven police officers worldwide reported struggling with PTSD or depression.

“I don’t think there’s an amount that you could put on that compensates police officers for everything that they do, see, hear, and experience over a 20-25 year plus career,” Nelson said.

Gov. Stitt chalks the bill up to short-term political wins. The state’s pension fund is healthy now, but Stitt expects it will take a downturn.

“I could have signed that bill and taken a victory lap,” Stitt said, “Everybody knows I support law enforcement.”

Nelson is a veteran police officer, having served several years with the Oklahoma City Police Department. He told 2 News he’s nearing retirement.

“There’s a super fine line, that satisfaction that comes from serving and taking care of and protecting your fellow man,” Nelson said “It starts to wear on you as a human … at some point, you have to take care of yourself and your family.”

Among Stitt’s reasoning for vetoing the bill, was the fact that other first responders were not included.

“The firefighters are gonna want 90%. The teachers are gonna want 90%. Highway patrol wasn’t in this deal. They’re gonna come back and want 90%,” Stitt said.

That debate will have to wait until the 2025 legislative session.


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