Attorney Brent Eames has been retained to represent 7 disabled police officers from the North Chicago Police Department who are fighting to save their statutory disability pensions from the City’s attempts to have their pensions stripped due to an alleged refusal to comply with an obscure provision of the Pension Code.
The City of North Chicago is attempting to take advantage of a rarely-cited and rarely-utilized provision referenced in 40 ILCS 5/3-116. Pursuant to the provisions of §116, in case of an emergency, a disabled police officer may be assigned to duty without right to compensation as the chief of police may direct. The code does not define what qualifies as an emergency, and the City has claimed that an emergency exists in the form of an understaffed dispatcher center. The City has alleged that they have been unable to find an adequate number of employees to work in its dispatch center, and that this understaffing has created an emergency public safety situation. As a result, the Chief has demanded that the disabled officers, some of whom live as far as away as Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina, immediately return to the City to report for work and provide free labor in the dispatch center until the alleged emergency is resolved. In its petition to revoke the disabled officers’ pensions based upon their alleged refusal to comply with their obligations under §116, the City acknowledged the significant financial interests at stake for the City with regard to the costs associated with the disabled officers’ pensions. This matter is currently pending before the City of North Chicago Pension Board.
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