COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - A state association governing pensions for police officers and firefighters said that a Colorado Springs sergeant charged with crimes on the job won't lose his pension.
James Butierres retired from the police department Friday, a day after being formally charged with forgery and theft. He's accused of falsifying his time sheet and misusing grant money related to a car theft enforcement program.
Dan Slack of the Fire And Police Pension Association of Colorado said the law protects the pensions of officers and firefighters, even if they are convicted of a crime. However, he said in the event of a conviction, a judge may order restitution and garnish money from a pension to pay restitution.
Colorado, said Slack, doesn't have a law that other states do, in which a pension can be taken if an alleged crime is directly connected to an officer's or firefighter's job.
Taxpayers, who pay part of the pensions for public safety personnel, expressed mixed feelings about whether Butierres should be allowed to keep his pension.
"They should take it all if he stole money," said Brittney Blanchfield.
Another taxpayer said taking the entire pension would be too harsh of a punishment.
"He earned it up to the point where he made whatever mistake it was," said a man who asked to remain anonymous. "Unless it was an ongoing problem."
Wesly Bateman said taking the entire pension would unfairly punish the family of the officer who depends on it.
"If any of us went to jail, we wouldn't lose our 401K," said Bateman. "Losing the entire amount based on one moment of stupidity, that shouldn't count."