The City of Sioux Falls is seeing a flurry of retirements. Changes in City pension plans and health coverage for retirees means a big turnover at the Sioux Falls Police Department.
"When I look back, wow, I was so young and inexperienced," Cpt. Steve Haney, Sioux Falls Police Dept, said at his retirement reception on Thursday.
26 years later, Haney has more than enough experience with the Sioux Falls Police Department, to hang up his badge.
"The time is right and we've accomplished a lot," Haney said.
"26 years went by really fast, it's always sad to see that kind of experience and knowledge go out the door," Chief Doug Barthel said.
There will be many more exits. At least 18 members of the force are retiring this year, which Barthel said is actually two years'-worth of retirements. The Department will lose 200 years of experience.
Barthel said changes in the City's pension plan and retiree health coverage contributed to the large number. Starting this year, retirees are no longer able to get on the City's health plan. Instead, they will get a monthly stipend of $40 for every year of service until they are eligible for Medicare. For Haney, that adds up to more than $1,000 per month.
"It provided an incentive for many officers that were planning to retire maybe last year to wait until this year. In the end it's going to save the City money, but it was a good option for some of them," Barthel said.
Losing that many employees is hard, but the Department has prepared for this. Last year, it started the process of hiring 20 new recruits. It takes nearly a year for them to complete training to become police officers.
Haney said the change in health coverage for retirees was not a factor in his decision to retire. As he leaves his career behind, he said he sees only a bright future for his colleagues.
"I'm very confident we have good men and women in our police department that will come and take my place and continue on with our strong policing philosophy," Haney said.