‘Nothing inappropriate.’ Police Chief Kerr Putney defends his retirement plan

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney on Wednesday defended his retirement plan after facing questions about whether it follows state law.

“If I thought I was doing something inappropriately in the first place, I wouldn’t have done it,” Putney said at a news conference at CMPD headquarters.

Putney was referring to his plan to retire at the end of the year and return as chief two months later, remaining through the Republican National Convention in August.

The chief’s plans are in limbo after State Treasurer Dale Folwell, who administers state retirement plans, told The Charlotte Observer that returning as chief is “totally in violation of the law that’s been on the books for decades.”

A state law prohibits a government employee from collecting a retirement pension with the “intent or agreement, expressed or implied, to return to service,” the Observer reported Oct. 10.

In an Oct. 8 statement, Charlotte city officials defended Putney’s plans. “There is no intent to circumvent the law,” according to the statement. “The statute does not prohibit from hiring back a retiree, which is a widely accepted practice across the country.”

On Wednesday, Putney told reporters he’s merely seeking the retirement and corresponding pay that’s owed him under the law after nearly 30 years of service. “I’m not going to roll over and have something taken from (that he accrued) over three decades.”

He declined to discuss further specifics of the plan, but quipped: “This is a profession I thought would never hire me. Now they’re going to determine when I leave it.”

“Right now, the lawyers are talking,” he said of the dispute, “and I don’t have any updates.”

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Joe Marusak has been a reporter for The Charlotte Observer since 1989 covering the people, municipalities and major news events of the region, and was a news bureau editor for the paper. He currently reports on breaking news.