We Owe Our Retired Police Officers More

We Owe Our Retired Police Officers More

Lt. Brett Macy (right) comforts Officer Kelly Dragus as they stand in the courtroom at the sentencing of the man that killed Sgt. Jonathan Dragus.  Photo Courtesy:  John Clanton, The Oklahoman

The vast majority of police officers retire prior to the age of 65.  The stress of the job combined with the physical demand almost makes it mandatory well before medicare age.

That fact is literally breaking the banks of retired police officers across the nation.

Kelly Dragus understands this.

A former Oklahoma City Police Officer that has a son with autism faces a quadruple-digit monthly premium in January, up from the $600 or so she pays currently.

She is the widow of Oklahoma City Sgt. Jonathan Dragus, who died in the line of duty.

She’s not asking the city for free healthcare but just wants to be able to afford her premium.

She’s gone back to work as a realtor, so she can afford her son’s medical expenses.

She tells KFOR that “at this point, I’m hopeful I’ll be able to make ends meet next month,” she said. “A thousand dollars a month is literally half of my husband’s pension. What we’ll have left [after paying insurance] will not even cover our mortgage.”

I went to the funeral of Sgt. Dragus and as I looked at his family, I was only consoled with the fact that we, as police agencies, would take care of that family that just lost a husband and a father.  It is our duty.

Agencies, unions and communities are all failing at this.

The current retiree insurance at many agencies are well above the $1000 mark.  Can you imagine working for decades as a police officer, taking care of your finances were you could actually live on a pension of 50%-75% of what you made, only to be told it’s now 20% or worse?

We are all to blame including myself.  Admittedly, I didn’t think much of it until I became eligible for retirement myself but we have to do better.

We tell our new officers that you won’t get rich but you get to make a difference in a crazy world and the retirement isn’t all that bad.  It turns out, when you subtract healthcare, there really isn’t a retirement at all.

Our heroes behind the badge deserve more and I think we all should play a part in making that happen.

Kelly Dragus certainly deserves more and I think every law enforcement officer that puts their life on the line for their community does as well.





About The Author


Travis Yates is a writer and editor at Law Officer. An ILEETA Trainer of the Year, his Seminars in Risk Management & Officer Safety have been taught across the United States & Canada. Major Yates has a Master of Science Degree in Criminal Justice and is a graduate of the FBI National Academy. He is the Director of Training for SAFETAC Training (www.safetac.org) and the Founder of the Courageous Leadership Institute (www.courageousleader.org), providing leadership consulting and training to law enforcement around the world.


  1. Howard Mellon

    There are a lot of things going on here. I have been sworn LE for over 40 years but never did it full time since I made more at other things. First things first. When you first take a job, go over what happens when bad things happen. If you cant live with the answer, I hate to say this, go somewhere else. Pick a state or an agency where you can retire with a decent pension and guaranteed health care. They are out there. With respect to social security, read the fine print. The projected benefit has assumptions in it, like working full time until retirement. It is called the windfall elimination provision https://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10045.pdf. The maximum reduction for 2017 is $442.50 so the person who posted about almost a $1,000 reduction should get a detailed explanation of all his SS calculations, since it isn’t WEP. And you have to take care of yourself, mentally, financially and physically. I am 65, have had injuries, illnesses, and lots of stuff but still weigh within 5% of what I weighed in high school….. and it is hard work to do it. Finally, like I said, you need to figure out what survivors benefits are in your state and agency. Bargain for better stuff and talk to the public about it. And not criticizing, but the article left out all the benefits a survivor gets in lump sum payments, hundreds of thousands (at least $300,000 from the feds) for survivors of those killed in the line of duty. Unfortunately Oklahoma punts on health insurance for the most part, but workers comp pays “70% of the average weekly wage to survivors” and a lump sum of at least $100,000. So good luck and bargain for benefits you hope you never use.

  2. Deputy Dog

    Here is my delema. I paid into social security from 1964 to present. I worked for Kalamazoo Police Department for 25 years and they did not pay into social security. I would always get a statement from social security saying my projected monthly payment would be $1800. When I worked as a cop I had part time jobs. When I applied for social security you have to let them know if you have a Police pension. By informing them my payment went from $1800 a month to $500 a month because of thr police pension. So where in the hell did all of that money go that I paid into social security for all of those years? Hep me President Trump and help law enforcement

  3. Legirons

    As a retired fed who entered service there in my 30’s after spending 12 years with a local agency I knew going in I had to pack money away, max my thrift savings and pay off as much as I could prior to mandatory retirement at 57. Had I not paid off my house and learned to never carry a credit card balance there is no way I could survive on the 38% of my final salary my pension turns out. With busted knees and bad back I figured it would be difficult to rely on new employment after retirement so we make do and surprisingly we save money every month. Too many live beyond their means, put nothing back, make the minimum payment and then when out of work or retired find they can’t make it. I fault the agencies for this. We take care of their firearms qualifications, most make them do PT tests, hearing tests etc., but none check the officer”s financial well being or their mental health. Both affect duration and quality of retirement.

  4. Justin Dolan

    If you are LE in Georgia. You need to know how you will be treated if you are catastrophically injured on duty. Expect what I got after being hit by are car while on foot on the interstate. Expect to be told that permanent light duty is too expensive. Expect to be live on Social Security until they yank that rug out from under you. Don’t expect the money you are given for your pay out to be enough to get you through the tough times. I got about $3,400 from the city, no pension, and an I’m sorry you are on your own and unemployable. I had a lawyer to help with workers comp. He, Miles Gammage, stole the money for medical necessities and many millions more from other disabled people he represented and got 6 yard in club fed.

  5. Merrill Henderson

    Having recently retired (Aug 31 this year) after 40.5 years of service, I find at age 63.5 I am now without insurance. Now, for the next year and a half I have a choice of either paying over half my pension for insurance under the Affordable Care Act, re-enter the work force to get a job that either provides insurance or pays enough to help cover my insurance, or play Russian Roulette with my health and hope I don’t have another heart attack (I’ve had 3) before I become eligible for Medicaire.

  6. Lori Silverstein

    Here in the State of Missouri we have a fantastic organization called: Back Stoppers. http://backstoppers.org/ They help the families of our fallen heroes, Police, Fire, Publicly-funded EMTs and Paramedics. They are a fantastic organization. I know, I was a police officer for 16 years and they have always been there. On October 6, 2016 St. Louis County Police Officer, Blake Snyder was shot and killed in the line of duty. The very next day, Back Stoppers had a five thousand dollar check in his widow’s hand. (He will be buried tomorrow-but his young wife and child will not have to worry)It does not stop there. I have included their link you can read up on their unique and appreciated services for our fallen. With that said, Here is where the City of Oklahoma has failed their public servants. Back Stoppers is like that safety net for your family after you are buried. They take care of all the bills and your children’s college education is also covered. Medical expenses, they got your back. Her husband’s pension plan or her retirement plan should have taken care of their medical but something is horribly wrong when her premiums sound like they match what COBRA charges-after your detachment. Considering that both her fallen, hero husband and she were employees, the City of Oklahoma could have worked the books to take care of their fallen heroes families better, if it is only to relieve their medical coverage burden just to where she could survive. Since Officer Snyder’s death, Back Stoppers has raised over one hundred thousand dollars. Our great community here in St. Louis County and City are fantastic when an officer falls they are there with their own fund raisers, children with lemon aid stands all the way up to businesses contributing their daily proceeds. Not too long ago we also had a Ballwin Police Officer get shot in the line of duty and was paralyzed .Back Stoppers is not there for this officer who faces life altering financial woes but again, St. Louis County and City residents and Businesses stepped up to the plate. Officer Flamion is in Colorado in rehab services learning to cope with a whole life style change. (He is paralyzed from the neck down) Go Fund Me help there, over three hundred thousand dollars raised there. There are still businesses raising funds for him to this day. Home Depot I heard is rehabbing his house for when he comes home. My point is, you are writing about her plight, but you are not putting words into action. Why are you just writing about it. Help her to help herself. Fund raise and organize your own Back Stoppers right there in Oklahoma. But make it better, make sure it covers the hero whose life is forever altered and they will be unable to return to the duty that they loved so much. I would cover the permanently disabled, the paralyzed hero as well. Any other injury that is not catastrophic can be dealt with, but they still have the ability of employment even if it is not in the line of duty. May God watch and protect our fallen heroes family!

    • Sarah

      I’m a proud supporter of a Law enforcement group. Every little bit helps.

      It is so sad that people on welfare that never worked a day in their lives get better medical coverage than those of use that have. Not to mention free smart phones and free mobile service.

      It’s disgusting that the U.S. takes better care of these freeloaders than our Law Enforcement, Military, and many others that are an asset to society.

      America has it’s priorities jacked up.

      • john strebe

        That’s just how the Democrats keep getting voted in, look at all the free stuff we get from the demos. I’m a disabled retired police officer from Baltimore, Do you know after the Freddie grey riots, to help “calm” the drug infested areas of their pain, an entire drug infested shit hole of the city now receives free wifi service to help with their emotional recovery from the riots. When will we stop being our own worst enemies, and I’m not talking about my brothers and sisters in blue.

        • Sarah

          We need to take care of Our Law Enforcement and Military (Active Duty and retired) than to support all these freeloaders that haven’t done a thing but live of off our system. While our Commander in Chief caters to these lazy people our Law Enforcement and Military get cut back after cut back.

          Praying our next president is for justice and does more for People that are actual assets to society and start cut backs on Welfare recipients.

      • iwundr

        Where do these never employed folks get these free smart phones? You are generalizing everyone in your “freeloaders” rant. There are many disabled people in this Country. They are disabled for many reasons. It is not your place to question decisions that have been made by doctors and judges. We did not all enter this world equal. Many were born with obvious and permanent disabilities. Be thankful that you are able to work and make your own decisions. Until you walk a mile in their shoes, you know not what it is like. SSI is well below the poverty level. Ever tried to live on that? I believe SSI level is around $9,000.00 a year.

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