September 21 2017

Police Asking Town Meeting to Help Set Retirement Age of Special Officers at 70

By: Rich Hosford

The Burlington Police Department is looking to get some clarification on the retirement age of some of its officers.


Burlington Town Meeting will vote on a home rule petition to authorize the Board of Selectmen to petition the General Court to enact legislation that would allow Burlington Police Department Special Officers to work until the age of 70.


Chief Michael Kent explained that the age of retirement for full time officers is 65 and that is a well-established fact. He said it is unclear if that retirement age pertained to special officers.


“Depending on who you talk to some say that it applies to special officers, some say it doesn’t,” he said.


The warrant article is meant to clarify that question and set the retirement age for special officers at 70.


“We are putting a hard end date in place and we picked 70,” Kent said. “Best practices tell us that by the time you’re 70 you shouldn’t be out there carrying a gun.”


Kent explained that special officers are normally retired full time officers who work on a variety of jobs though they do not go out in patrol vehicles or respond to calls. They will work directing traffic, on construction and work security details and cover events. They do carry firearms and have full police powers of arrest.


“They basically supplement our regular patrols because we have so many paid details,” Kent said.


Age is not the only factor to being kept on as a special officer, the chief said. They must undergo regular training and maintain the skills and proper physical and mental standards of an officer.


“We could have someone who was, say, 59 years old, and if I deem him unfit physically or mentally I can recommend to the Town Administrator that he be taken off the list,” he said. “We have fairly stringent standards, some of the most stringent in the area, and everyone needs to meet those no matter their age.”


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