Bounty for retiring Warren police chief

WARREN – When Tim Bowers retired as Warren police chief this month, he potentially did so significantly richer.

The city’s payroll department explained Bowers’ severance pay won’t be finalized until after he receives his last paycheck. However, based on pension formulas, the now-former chief could be looking at an annual retirement income of at least $52,000.

Additionally, he could receive anywhere from $156,000, plus interest, to more than $400,000, plus interest, from the Ohio Police & Fire Pension Fund’s Deferred Retirement Option Plan annuity, if he opted into that program.

OP&F representatives said they cannot comment on a member’s retirement, when the person started working or retired, or whether he opted into DROP. They can only confirm whether the individual is still working.

DROP is an optional benefit that allows eligible police officers and firefighters, through OP&F, to accumulate a lump sum of money for retirement. It allows members to begin collecting full retirement pay when they become eligible to retire, but don’t.

The money is placed into an annuity for up to eight years, by which time the officer must retire or risk losing the money. To opt in to DROP, the individual must commit to staying in for at least three years.

Bowers, who was named chief four years ago, was hired in 1978 by Warren Police Department. He has been an OP&F Pension Fund member since.

He would have been eligible for the DROP annuity in 2003 because employees are eligible with 25 years service.

Although city payroll representatives said they have not finalized the amount of Bowers’ severance, with at least 20 years of service, he is entitled to cash payment for his actual accumulated, unused sick leave or for 960 hours accumulated, unused sick leave, whichever is less.

City officials said Bowers accumulated more than the contract allows him to be compensated for, meaning he will walk away with the maximum payout for time accrued.

Enrolling in DROP is voluntary. OP&F representatives said they are also limited on what they can say because of confidentiality, therefore they would not speak specifically to the particulars of Bowers’ retirement including whether he opted into DROP.