City of Charlotte responds to Chief Putney’s retirement plans, says the plan does not break law

City responds to investigation into police chief's retirement

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - The City of Charlotte responded to the ongoing controversy surrounding Chief Putney’s retirement plans that include him retiring at the end of the year, and then coming back in March to serve as Chief through the RNC before stepping down again.

In an e-mail to media partners, the City of Charlotte said " that there is nothing in state law or Local Government Employees Retirement System (LGERS) policies and procedures that prohibits Chief Putney’s retirement arrangement as long as he abides by all the limitations of his temporary employee status. "

This comes after the North Carolina State Treasurer’s office said they asked multiple times for CMPD’s and the City of Charlotte’s retirement and retiree hire back policies. As of Tuesday, the treasurer’s office said they did get those documents and were in the process of reviewing them.

In the past, the state treasurer’s office said Chief Putney’s public plans to retire and then come back to work and serve as chief broke state statute as well as certain IRS tax code.

But the City of Charlotte says there is nothing in state law or the Local Government Retirement System (LGERS) that prohibits him coming back as a temporary employee for a special event.

This is in excerpt from Charlotte’s policy regarding officers and is what was sent to the retirement system.

“When an officer returns to work for CMPD, they are not in the position that they were in prior to retirement; rather, they are brought back only if there is a special task needed or there is a need for special events. Neither of these positions are equivalent to a regularly employed officer. When they return to work after retirement, it is on a limited basis and they are not given benefits; rather, their healthcare is retiree healthcare, which is more expensive and slightly different from current employee healthcare, and their reduced work position and schedule are subject to and in compliance with the LGERS plan of less than 1,000 hours per calendar year.”

In previous stories, the state treasurer said that as he saw it, Chief Putney’s plans did not meet the requirements for him to be hired back. Those requirements include working part time.

The city says Chief Putney would return in March as a temporary employee status.

The dual purpose of this plan was to allow Chief Putney to retire at a time most financially advantageous to him while allowing him to honor his commitment to the Charlotte community and our relevant partners to serve as Charlotte’s Chief of Police during the RNC," said the City of Charlotte attorney Patrick Baker in the memo.

The memo addressed to retirement system staff goes on to say Chief Putney received “substantial input and advice from the LGERS staff who were well aware of his objectives.”

Furthermore, the city attorney goes on to explain that to the city it appears the primary offending act in this matter is the combination of the agreement and public announcement of CHief Putney’s retirement plan.

“The City would acknowledge that more artful and legally precise language could have been used in our press release and Chief Putney’s video announcing his retirement plans and we would be more than happy to clarify the tenants of the plan in a manner that would satisfy the retirement system,” the memo said.

At the end of the memo, the city attorney asks the retirement system to “reconsider your decision on Chief Putney’s announced retirement plans as we feel strongly that it is in compliance with all applicable LGERS provisions, state law and IRS Codes.” He also mentioned that this is a timely issue as Chief Putney plans to start his retirement at the end of this year.

At a Wednesday morning press conference, before the memo was released to WBTV News, Chief Putney was asked if he was going to change his retirement date based off of what the state treasurer said. Here’s what he said when asked.

“I don’t see what that relationship is to the policy but we’ll come back to that to,” said Chief Putney. He went on to start answering another reporter’s question when he interrupted and replied to the original question with, “I’m sorry. No.”

The city also released a legal opinion by the law firm Poyner Spruill on Chief Putney’s retirment plans that addresses the questions of legality and a copy of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department’s standard operating procedure for hiring back retired employees.

You can see copies of those below:

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