Former San Jose Police Chiefs Paid $5.3 Million from Pensions

San Jose’s police union brought together four former police chiefs last month for an orchestrated media event intended to boost the political fortunes of mayoral candidate Dave Cortese. They also blamed Mayor Chuck Reed’s pension reforms for driving officers away and leaving the department understaffed. The chiefs—Tom Wheatley, William Lansdowne, Rob Davis and Chris Moore—each had harsh words for the current administration, with Davis reportedly saying it’s been “hard to watch it, because that's our baby." But Davis didn’t mention that he and his fellow chiefs abandoned the infant when they golden parachuted to lucrative new gigs while still receiving 90 percent of their final salaries—plus 3 percent cost of living increases­—for the rest of their days. Fly asked City Hall for compensation numbers on the four pensioners, and their active retirements could just as easily boost the argument as to why pensions needed to be scaled back in the first place. Davis, who retired on Halloween 2010 and now holds a private-security consulting gig, has already deposited $817,497 in retirement checks. Moore, who held the top spot for less than two years and left in January 2013 for a similar job, has already received more than $320,000. That’s $1.1 million combined for two men who left “the beat” less than four years ago. Lansdowne abruptly retired in March after serving as San Diego’s police chief for the last 10 years, and during that time he collected a cool $2.2 million from San Jose. While SJPD faces some serious challenges, having dropped from 1,400 officers to less than 900, the former chiefs’ shameless double-dipping somehow managed to escape their collective outrage. (Wheatley, who retired for health reasons after serving as acting chief for less than five months, has collected just less than $2 million.) Potentially growing the $5.3 million in post-employment compensation that’s already been paid out to the gang of four, current chief Larry Esquivel could be entertaining thoughts of joining his predecessors as a young working and well pensioned retiree.

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  1. While on the subject, can we discuss the pensions of our Mayor and City council? You are trying to make it seem that people don’t want pension reform…they do. Just legal pension reform.

    • From Reed’s CalPERS retirement he will get 2% for every year he was on the Council (8 as councilman + 8 as Mayor) so 32% of his highest 3 year average salary. Plus a 3% COLA for the rest of his life.

  2. “… the former chiefs’ shameless double-dipping…”

    Why is it that the employee is at fault for following the rules that management, in this case are the elected officials named Chuck Reed and Sam Liccardo, voted themselves to put these very rules in place. You should be calling out Reed and Liccardo for approving them not the employee for using them. Additionally, why are you not calling out Reed, Liccardo and let’s not forget elected councilman Pete Constant (who will be quadruple dipping) for their own public pension double dipping. But us not forget former darling city manager, Deb Figone, for her egregious pension and pension spiking all with the approval of Chuck Reed, Sam Liccardo and the rest of the council clowns. The pot must be careful before he calls the kettle black.

    • Correct me if Im wrong , but aren’t Reed and Liccardo encouraging employees to “Double dip” to slow the mass exodus? This site is quickly becoming as Pathetic as the Merc. . Don’t get it twisted those Police Chiefs Earned what they received. Reed Personally approved any and all increases in Benefits and Pensions for at least the last 15 years. Pay close attention , I guarantee you that Reed will be “Double Dipping “as donnas he can . Measure B does not affect him because he is in CALPERS System.

      • You’re absolutely right about both Reed and Liccardo encouraging police officers to double dip. I just don’t get the hypocrisy in all of it. Also, if Liccardo has a plan to hire 200 more officers where is it? I would have thought he would like to save the citizens of San Jose some misery from crime. If he loses the election is he going to be like a school boy cry baby and take his plan home with him so no one else can use it? I would have thought if he had this great plan he would have used it to prove himself the great “white knight” to the voters instead of a just elect me tool and then you will all see.

    • Why act like Cortese is not part of that group that approved and promoted the crippling pensions as well? He was on the council when that was done. George Shirakawa, Cindy Chavez, Nora Campos all were part of it too. In fact Liccardo came in on the back end and Cortese and crew had already given away the store.

      Its hard to hide your bias but at least try to be accurate. Not only is it shameful for those former chief’s to dare come and criticize when they take so much money out of San Jose but they ALL moved away and ZERO dollars are reinvested in the community. The former mayors that have all endorsed Liccardo, well guess what? THEY ALL STILL LIVE IN SAN JOSE AND ARE COMMITTED COMMUNITY MEMBERS.

  3. Great scoop.. Take the last 4 major outliers and turn them into the example! Brilliant.

    How about we all just focus on the extremes and gloss over the facts?

    The “mini murk” continues to amaze.

  4. Those were payouts for vacation and sick time buyouts not retirement checks. They don’t count towards retirement pay.. Do some better research and get the facts straight.

    • A break down between one time payouts and actual retirement pay as well as the amount of each retirement payment that is covered by the employee’s own contributions and returns on those contributions would provide a more accurate picture for the reader. And a comparison of those figures to averages for rank and file officers of various levels would also be educational rather than sensational and exploitative as this superficial analysis is.

    • We specifically asked for just pension payouts. The numbers do not include sick leave and vacation. To be sure, we double-checked with Tamara Becker, the city’s open government manager. “The information was received from Retirement Services and would only have included their retirement payments,” she said.


        • what about Constant? CRICKETS!!! local media is in a sad state and has lost influence, not gained influence. can you say IRRELEVANT?

      • Thank you for confirming. But you did not respond to how much of the money came from their own funds and investments on their own contributions…

        • Roughly 18-22% of basepay is/was taken out of officers checks and is supposed to be deposited into the officers retirement account. That account’s (fund) ROI since inception in the late 60’s or early 70’s averges something like 11%/year.
          The fund is managed by its stakeholders – a bunch of amateur investors (police and firefighters) who have done a decent job over the years .

  5. When you fricking retire from the city of SJ on a service retirement, you are not double dipping if you seek another job. Retirement does not mean you have to sit on your couch and only get a check from the city. Unlike Pete who retired on a bogus disability retirement and went back to work for the city.

  6. Fly…your research is almost kindergarten-like. Chiefs are appointed…no longer part of the Union, Their pensions (other than the service retirement portion) are NEGOTIATED!!! They are no longer part of the rank and file….they are politicians, just like your boys Liccardo and Reed.
    Please tell the truth, and stop the lying. Its only making you look REALLY bad.

  7. Not pointing any fingers, but this really gives a whole new meaning to “laughing all the way to the bank”.

  8. Didnt they not earn their pensions? And didn’t Pete Constant double dip? After he got a 50% tax free disability pension from the SJPD / City of San Jose / police and fire retirement plan? And will continue his city council CalPers pension if elected to that college board he’s running for…

  9. Fly,
    Chief Wheatley is one of the most honorable and decent men I have known. He has the utmost in integrity, in his respect for others, and he has served this city with honor for over 30 years, always doing the right thing for the citizens. He came back to work after he battled cancer, when he could have retired, because he loved his job. He also had the respect of every cop I know, even those he disciplined. Chief Wheatley paid hundreds of thousands of his own dollars into his own retirement for over 30 years. It is disgraceful to discredit him because he collects a pension. I hope SJI tries to be more balanced in their future reporting. Your trend over the past year or so is to present one biased side of the news or issue, just as the Mercury does. One of the things I enjoyed about SJI in the past was that it presenting different sides of a story and tried to be objective and balanced. I believe you will lose readers, just as the Mercury, if you only present one predictable side of an issue. Chief Wheatley loves this city, and this is his only motivation in speaking up that this Mayor, most of the city council, and Mayoral candidate Liccardo have largely destroyed this police department, which is now on life support. He has absolutely no agenda or anything to gain in this, aside from trying to save the police department in the city in which he resides.

  10. What’s the going rate for a knowledgable professional to keep his mouth shut? The answer can be found in the article above.

    The police chief of this city, any city for that matter, is supposed to carry out his duties honestly and according to the law. That’s the theory, anyway, but the reality is far different, as any police professional who speaks the truth and follows the law would never be allowed anywhere near the chief’s office. The reason for this has nothing to do with the law enforcement profession — which endeavors to achieve its ideals, it is instead due to the corrupt and indefensible demands of local politicians.

    To make it to the top spot in the police department one must first prove himself a player by pretending the relationship between race and crime (of which every tattooed store clerk and turban-topped cabbie is frightfully aware) is an illusion, the product of dull-witted white racists. Ironically, to accomplish this he must align himself with actual racists from organizations like La Raza and the NAACP, and enthusiastically adhere to the political and media disinformation campaign. Not only that, he must be willing to publicly question the integrity of those serving him and the criminal justice system itself, without any consideration given to fairness or rule of law. He must, in the face of controversy, accept the supremacy of race concerns over factual evidence, and administer his department using a double standard.

    Police chiefs are neither behavioral scientists nor cultural historians, yet every man who’s held the permanent position of SJ police chief in the last four decades has behaved as if he possessed such expertise, offering up excuses on demand for those who commit crime disproportionately. Depicting blacks and Hispanics as victims of racism — tantamount to branding everyone else as victimizers, our chiefs have willingly subjected their officers to an insultingly excessive level of scrutiny, sociological propaganda, reverse discrimination, unwarranted restraint, and a culture of politically-correct dishonesty. The cost for this: officers afraid or disinclined to aggressively enforce the law, top prospects refusing to participate in a racially-rigged promotional system, inept minority officers retained and even promoted, distrust and disrespect for the command ranks, and, unforgivingly, a public grossly misinformed about its safety and police force.

    To be a police chief one must be willing to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with race-baiters of the worst stripe as they accuse yet another generation of American police officers of a treacherous, even homicidal brand of racism, a charge typically justified by nothing more than anecdote, fabrication, and hysteria. Every time a chief accepts a sweeping accusation of endemic racism he proves himself willing to accept that his recruiters, instructors, trainers, and supervisors have put law-breaking racists on the streets; proves himself willing to let the profession spin a little bit closer to the drain; proves himself unwilling to speak the truth and bravely defend the officers who bravely defend the streets.

    The reward for selling yourself to the devil for a few years is enough money to spend one’s life far, far away from the likes of La Raza and the NAACP. Would anything less be fair? After all, one’s dignity shouldn’t go for cheap.

  11. No officer who is able to retire would dare stay under this stupid plan. Sam and Chuck are just blowing smoke in an election year.

    Get the hell out of San Jose. Retire, and seek another job. This is not double dipping. They have served the city and time to move on. Do nothing and enjoy or seek other employment to cover yourself and family or do community work.

    Tired of this double dipping term, may apply to Constant and a whole bunch of others that I know of.

    Disability retirement!

    That is a subject Josh or the Fly should look into but the retirement board say this is confidential. More BS, they hand it out like candy so retirees get at 50% tax break but no more $ that they would have received.

    Come on SJI start reported the real facts.

  12. The above article is so outrageously misleading that one would have expected it to have come from the Mercury News or mayor Reed’s Measure B campaign push. Whatever genius wrote this bit of “yellow” (snow) journalism aptly calls himself “The Fly” because the story is a load of manure.

    The “Fly” fails to mention that each of the former chief’s whom he seeks to malign for collecting a pension, something that was earned and not stolen, each worked at least 25-30 years for the SJPD before becoming a Chief. I know this because I was an SJPD officer and I went on calls, often violent ones, with Wheatley, Moore and Davis while they were all still working in patrol, long before they were chiefs and I once got a rather vigorous a** chewing in the field by Lansdowne when he was still a lieutenant.

    I am no apologist for police administrators and I don’t socialize with any of the former chiefs that were mentioned. I retired as an officer and while I don’t have a pension even close to what a chief makes, if one were to compare those numbers with the retirement benefits of any other Silicon Valley executive, I have little doubt that the pension a police chief collects, even after 25 to 30 years (or more) of service, is dwarfed by the retirement benefits collected by most company executives who retire from the private sector. Keep in mind too that during their careers, chiefs and street cops alike have no 401k’s, get no commissions, no profit sharing, no bonuses, no stock options and, believe it or not, at the chief level, no paid overtime. (As an officer, the City only allowed me an hour and a half of paid overtime a week myself even if I worked 10-20 hours or more, which wasn’t that unusual).

    An outrageous cost of living adjust of 3%? Well, I am no more an economist than “The Fly” is an objective journalist but I have little doubt that the interest earned from a private sector executive’s 401k and other company provided stocks and other investments likely far exceeds 3% and has the potential to increase substantially more than that while police pension cost of living adjustment remains static, it won’t go up, it won’t go down but I don’t know anyone, including a chief, who is getting rich off of it.

    Is getting a job after retiring from another job “double dipping”? Doctor’s, dentists, lawyers and other professionals often “sell their practices” and small start-ups are bought out and those executives, in effect retire from that job, then get into another line of work. Many career military people I know retired on a pension from the armed forces after 20 years, were still in their 40’s and got another job, it’s not just the greedy, grasping cops and police chiefs that do this sort of “double dipping”. Or is “double dipping” just another term for “continues working”? What is the alternative; to. retire, go home, sit in a corner with your pension check and wait to die?

    Public safety is not an exclusive club. If “The Fly” wants these same “lucrative” pension benefits that he seems so upset about, then sign up and work 30 years as a cop, get yourself promoted, then retire and rake in the pension checks. In the process maybe you can help me drag two armed paroles out of a stolen car like Wheatley did; or maybe help me go into a bar and take a gun (with the barrel still warm) away from some drunk who just murdered his ex-wife and her new boyfriend, like Moore did. Maybe you can help me tow Wheatley’s patrol car down to the impound yard after the windshield was shattered by 2 bullets that barely missed his head.

    Police pensions, even for chief’s, are earned, they are not welfare. So Mr. Fly, go down to the SJPD Personnel Unit and fill out an application. Since the passage of Measure B,, San Jose provides the worst police pension benefits in the Bay Area, if not in all of northern California, so the line will be short and there will be plenty of pencils. Whereas police staffing is abysmal, once hired, I’m sure some overpaid chief will find plenty for you to do, just don’t expect help to get there very quickly when you need it, as your fill Unit will be coming from the other end of town. You really should become a cop, since you’re obviously not cutting it as a journalist..

  13. I think when Moore retired there was some question over whether he’d be seeking a “disability” retirement. This is always an attractive option for public employees because it makes much of their retirement income tax free. I believe Moore said he would NOT be taking a disability retirement, but this may have been to deflect criticism whiloe he was in the public eye. It’s my understanding though that this “disability” status can be sought retroactively. It’d be worth keeping an eye on this guy. Not that We The People could do anything about it- after all he was a public employee and we are merely Government plantation slaves- but it’s good to keep tabs on the extent to which we are being swindled by our government.

    • Mr. Galt, sir. Do you take all the tax deductions that you are legally allowed to take on your tax returns? If you do, or even if you don’t, it seems that you somehow resent others who avail themselves of tax deductions that are legal and proper.
      Before you imply that someone, such as chief Moore, is somehow sneaking a shady disability into his retirement, perhaps you might do well to educate yourself before you cast such aspersions.

      One does not simply ask for, glad-hand, or lobby for a disability retirement. One must first have a diagnosis of a disability injury from one’s doctor. The City may also require the individual be examined by a specialist doctor selected by the City. The doctor in City Employee Health Services, who is employed (but not necessarily “paid for”) by the City then examines and reviews the medical reports and presents his opinion as to the nature of the disability injury to the Retirement Board.

      The Board consists of active and retired police and fire department personnel, PRIVATE CITIZENS from the community and at least one city council member .I seem to recall that I once even saw Liccardo in there, literally “glowering” and smirking at retirement applicants. The Retirement Board then votes to approve or disapprove the retirement application. No one “sneaks one in” on the taxpayer. Remember too that the retiree has contributed a substantial amount of his or her own income into the retirement system over the years, it’s not just the taxpayer, and the retirees, possibly more than the City, have a vested interest in keeping the system solvent. Disability retirements provide a tax break or deduction for state and federal income tax purposes. Such retirement status does not cost the retirement system or the local taxpayer a single dime.

      Due to various studies and research into the nature of police work and its impact on health, there are several conditions that are presumed, by statute, to be job related. Please read the Gov’t Code and the Labor Code, particularly Sections 3211 and 3212 of the Labor Code. This is the law. These presumptions are there for a reason and do not necessarily require a disability retirement applicant be confined to a wheelchair that he steers by blowing into a straw (as mayor Reed might want) but may, under certain statutory limits, also apply to someone whose heart disease and/or hypertension may put them one flight of stairs away from a fatal cardiac arrest, aneurysm or stroke. There are also certain cancers and other diseases that occur at disproportionate rates in cops and firemen due to the hazardous materials (Meth labs, toxic smoke, and a list too lengthy to include) and disease ridden individuals (with blood borne pathogens, such as hepatitis, HIV and AIDS, tuberculosis and pneumonia, the latter 2 often medically resistant), to which they are exposed through job related contact with junkies, winos, pimps, perverts, prostitutes and politicians.

      State law recognizes that due to the often lengthy process of evaluating medical information and the fact that some symptoms don’t always present themselves immediately, the law then allows for the presumption of a job related injury to be extended to a member following termination of service for a period of three calendar months for each full year of the requisite service, but not to exceed 60 months in any circumstance, commencing with the last date actually worked in the specified capacity. The law then specifically allows for the “retroactive” change from service to disability retirement and even then this must be approved by vote of the Retirement Board. Cops and firemen don’t write the law. They only follow it.

      I do not know chief Moore socially and I do enjoy divergent opinions from responsible individuals. However sir, before you imply that anyone has or will do something nefarious with the retirement system, and particularly before you seek to impugn the character or integrity of someone like chief Moore, please, make at least some effort to know what you are talking about.

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