City boosting police OT as 100 cops leave in retirement buyout

The department will pay double-time after a buyout program enticed 100 officers to retire early

By Suzie Ziegler 

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Columbus was already suffering from a police officer shortage when the city negotiated a retirement incentive program that would eventually lead to the departure of 100 more officers. Under the program, the city of Columbus offered a one-time buyout of $200,000. The officers selected for the program will retire in waves this summer, WBNS reported in February. 

Summer is now fast-approaching, and the city still doesn’t have enough officers. 

Police Chief Elaine Bryant says the department will need to pay officers double-time, a 33% increase, to ensure adequate patrol coverage after the retirements, The Columbus Dispatch reported on Tuesday. Bryant specifically cited the retirement buyout program as the reason for the extra overtime pay. It’s not clear how much overtime the city will ultimately spend, the report said. 

Bryant had previously warned the city that police would need more support after the buyout program was negotiated. 

“This means we will need to hire more officers, additional classes, larger classes, to able to replace the officers we’ve lost as quickly as possible,” Bryant told WOSU News in a July 2021 interview. 

In that same interview, Bryant and Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther said the retirement program could help younger, reform-minded officers succeed.  

"There are some [officers] who clearly are resistant to change and reform, they’ve made themselves known and have been very clear and that’s fine," Ginther told WOSU News. "And this is an opportunity maybe for them to go police someplace else."

Ginther has said the early retirements will save the city millions in the long term, according to WOSU News. 

Although the city is in the process of hiring new officers, the void won’t be filled by this summer, Bryant told The Dispatch. 

"It may be a challenging summer," Assistant Chief Greg Bodker told The Dispatch. "Officers might not be in the parks as much as we might like them to be. There's a lot of streets and neighborhoods to patrol."

NEXT: What young cops want (and what police leaders can do about it)

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