News Bite

Does Defund The Grand Rapids Police Mean Take Their Pensions Too?

Police and firefighters have been promised a combined $530.7 million in pensions by the city

The individual behind a website called Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy is promoting the Defund Police movement and calling for reduced funding for the city of Grand Rapids Police Department.

But the site does not address the enormous legacy costs associated with public safety departments – lifetime pension promises to officers and other staffers.

For example, the budget for Grand Rapids Public Safety (including both police and fire) was $121.7 million in 2019. This included 466 active fire and police employees who are enrolled and vested in the pension system, and 710 individuals who are now collecting retirement benefits from it.

Altogether, the city has committed to paying $530.7 million in pension benefits, as of 2019, to its police and firefighters. The city has also promised to pay $57.0 million in health insurance benefits for police retirees.