Scott Breguet


My name is Scott Breguet and I have been a Woonsocket Police officer since Nov. 2009. I was hired as a police officer when the demand to become a police officer was so high that applicants were told to apply to every department, that it might take years for someone to be hired as a police officer. Times have changed and Rhode Island departments are now exhausting their hiring lists in less than a year. In addition to hiring troubles, retention issues also plague RI police departments. A couple years ago, my union president left the policing profession to seek a job in the private sector.

While it would not be fair to lay all of the staffing woes of first responders on the Pension Reforms from 2011, these certainly are a factor. At the time I graduated from the Rhode Island Municipal Police Academy, I was told that 1 out of 3 graduates would not reach retirement, I imagine that number would be much more now. 20 years of having to respond to critical incidents takes its toll on someone that becomes a first responder at 25. As police and firefighters get older, our chances for both physical and mental trauma goes up. I have 14 more years where I will be expected to engage and restrain people half my age, all while not injuring them, if I were a firefighter, I would be expected to carry patients and fire victims. If my fellow first responders and I do get hurt, we can get a disability pension. The issue is that with older and older first responders whose bodies are more adapt to break down, we start having more disability pensions for more people no longer investing into the pension system.

A longer time to retire means that there is less of a motivation for a first responder to complete 25 years of service and stay working until the age of 55. This helps create the revolving door of people becoming first responders and than leaving for the private sector. When I was growing up, public jobs were touted for their great benefits and retirement. Its tough to convince a 35 year old to stay when they see if they leave their government job, they could make 2-3 times as much in the private sector with comparable benefits. A private sector job where they won't be called in early or forced to stay late because their department is facing a manpower shortage.

We are now seeing the 3rd and 4th effects to public staffing issues as a result of the 2011 pension reforms. Soon, as more and more first responders are older and just trying to get to 25 years of service and the age of 55, we will start 5th and 6th effects. As I said, its not fair to lay police staffing shortages solely the this panel's feet, but anything that could be done to improve the pension system for public sector employees of Rhode Island would be beneficial to our first responders, our state and our citizens.

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