How You Can Capitalize on the Minnesota Police Pension Changes
On most occasions, reading up on pension plans and retirement planning would probably put you to sleep. But there’s a good reason to get excited if you’re getting started in law enforcement. Changes to Minnesota’s public employee pension plan have resulted in a substantial increase in retirements—which could open the door for a wave of new officers and promotions.
The changes to the plan, which first took effect in June 2014, decreased the pension payout for officers who retire early. This led to a rush of officers retiring before the new rules were applied. Additionally, the increased penalty for early retirement is being gradually phased in so more officers may decide to retire before the full five percent per year penalty takes effect in 2019.
The changes have already made a shocking impact—in one month the number of police retirements was equal to the number of retirements in an average year. Dr. Currie Myers, 24-year law enforcement veteran and dean of the Rasmussen College School of Justice Studies, says the typical yearly attrition rate for police officers is around 15 percent but this year Minnesota police could be facing a 20 to 25 percent loss.
Take advantage of the opportunity
The increase in retirements means police departments across the state are becoming understaffed and short on experienced officers. This will inevitably result in more job opportunities—both for aspiring officers looking to land their first police job and for young cops eyeing a promotion. Myers says the wave of retirements could mean big changes at police departments across Minnesota.
“There’s going to be, to some extent, a leadership void for the next two to five years,” Myers says. “This will create a lot of opportunities for less experienced police officers.”
If you’re eager to capitalize on this golden opportunity, we broke down what you need to do and consider before taking the next step in your law enforcement career.
For aspiring police officers…
Don’t expect to be able to just walk in the door and get hired just because law enforcement agencies are facing a staffing crunch. Most positions will require at least an associate degree as well as training from a Minnesota Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) certified institution. While there are several POST board approved educational providers, Rasmussen College is one of the few with its own law enforcement skills training facility.
Physical fitness is also an important factor to consider. Not everyone who applies to the Rasmussen College skills training is accepted, so it’s a good idea to begin training as soon as possible. You won’t regret it—especially after your first on-foot pursuit of a suspect.
Another factor to consider before applying is your background. As you might imagine, a criminal record is a major red flag for someone responsible for enforcing the law. Minor infractions might not immediately disqualify you from police service, but could make it more difficult to land a job. It should go without saying, but steer clear of trouble if you’re hoping to make it as a police officer.
For current police officers…
Existing officers might not be enamored with these policy changes but there’s definitely a silver lining. The turnover of highly experienced officers results in promising career advancement opportunities for current cops. Myers says the competition for these senior positions will be strong and will require a highly qualified applicant.
“If you are a cop and you want to be a captain or lieutenant, a lot of departments now want you to have a four-year degree,” Myers says. “This is an opportunity now for an officer to go to school and get it done right while the promotional opportunities are available.”
The window of opportunity won’t be open forever, so if you’re pursuing a promotion and don’t have a bachelor’s degree you’ll need to act quickly. One option that may appeal to current officers hoping to advance is an AcceleratED bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Rasmussen College, which can be completed in as little as 18 months with the flexible scheduling of online classes.
Strike while the iron is hot
The changes to the pension plan may be a headache for the administrators responsible for replacing the retiring officers but they present a golden opportunity for both current and aspiring police officers. To make the most of these opportunities you’re going to need training and education from a Minnesota POST board certified institution.
Don’t let a lack of education stop you from taking advantage of this opportunity—check out the justice studies degree page to learn more about how Rasmussen College can set you up for success.