North Chicago, IL – Eight former North Chicago police officers who retired on disability after being injured in the line of duty have been ordered to become 911 dispatchers for the department or face losing their pensions.
Retired North Chicago Police Officer Brian Carder said he was hit by a vehicle in the line of duty on two occasions during his 17 years of service with the department, WBBM reported.
He suffered a broken clavicle, a broken hand, and “a couple concussions,” during those incidents, and subsequently underwent two hip replacements, he told the news outlet.
In 2009, Officer Carder was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and retired with a line-of-duty disability pension and health benefits.
Those are now his only sources of income, he said.
In May, Officer Carder and seven other fellow pensioners received an “emergency recall” letter from the North Chicago Police Department (NCPD), ordering them to attend training for 911 dispatcher positions, WBBM reported.
The letter informed the retired officers that the department’s 911 center is “dramatically understaffed” due, in part, to an anticipated department consolidation.
As a result, employees have been leaving the agency to accept long-term opportunities with other departments.
But Officer Carder said that he and his fellow pensioners are unable and unwilling to return to work. Some have even moved out-of-state since leaving NCPD.
When a majority of the retired officers failed to show up for the recent dispatcher orientation, the city filed a motion to revoke their pensions, WBBM reported.
The city also noted that they have already reassigned current city employees to handle dispatch duties, even though they don’t have any experience.
“Take a person’s livelihood away after they already made a pretty significant sacrifice, it’s just outrageous,” Officer Carder said. “I’d be homeless [without my pension].”
The Police Pension Board will ultimately decide whether or not the former officers’ pensions will be terminated, and are due to meet in October.
North Chicago Police Chief Lazaro Perez and the city attorney’s office have refused to comment on the issue, WBBM reported.