Police put to test for benefits

BROWNSTOWN

Full-time officers with the Brownstown Police Department will soon be undergoing tests that could have a bearing on their retirement benefits.

A baseline physical, a psychological evaluation and an aptitude exam will be mandatory for the officers to see if they qualify for the 1977 Police Officers’ and Firefighters’ Pension and Disability Fund, also known as 1977 Fund.

Brownstown currently has six full-time officers.

All town employees, including policemen, now are on a deferred compensation plan, Councilman C.J. Foster said during last week’s Brownstown Town Council meeting.

The town is among more than 200 local government units in the state that use that type of plan, which offers employees a way to save for their retirement through tax-deferred contributions to their own individual accounts.

“The police department has requested to be put on the Indiana police and fire pension, which a majority of the police departments in the state are on,” Foster said. “We’re just wanting to switch up their retirement plan.”

Since July 1, 2011, the Indiana Public Retirement System board of trustees has administered the 1977 Fund, which was established to pay pension, disability and survivor benefits to eligible public safety officers and their survivors.

Membership in the 1977 Fund is mandatory for full-time, fully paid police officers and firefighters who work for employers participating in the 1977 Fund and who are hired or rehired after April 30, 1977.

To become a member of the fund, a police officer or firefighter must pass the three tests and be less than 36 years of age.

The fund consists of member contributions, employer contributions and earnings, which all are used to make benefit payments to fund members and their survivors as specified by Indiana statutes.

Council President John Nolting said the tests have nothing to do with officers’ employment.

“If an officer fails, he’s not going to lose his job,” he said.

“It’s just that they would be approved to be in a different pension plan,” Foster added.

Foster said it will be up to Chief Tom Hanner to schedule officers for their physicals and evaluations. Hanner said he is going to start those this summer and hopes to have them done by October.

Foster said the goal is to have the officers in the pension program as of Jan. 1.

Firefighters are not involved in the Brownstown plan because they aren’t town employees. The volunteer firefighters are a part of the Brownstown Township Fire Protection District.

Hanner thanked the five council members for unanimously approving beginning the process of enrolling in the fund.

New council member Bethany Brewster said it’s a win-win for the town because it should help recruit officers to join the force.

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Zach Spicer is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. He can be reached at zspicer@tribtown.com or 812-523-7080.