Cape Coral, Fla. - Just days after Cape Coral's Chief of Police announced his retirement, controversy surrounds the decision. Chief Jay Murphy plans on stepping down next month but it appears he's firing all of his shots at the ordinance that says he must retire.
Tonight's item on the city council's agenda was to simply introduce a new ordinance changing the police pension system. But, after many questions and only a few answers, it turned into a discussion about who is trying to change that system and when all the back and forth was finally done, the answer is.......the chief himself, so he can keep his job.
Murphy has been the Cape Coral Police Chief for the last three years but he's been on the force for 35 years. At the end of 30 years he had the option to retire or enter what's called the DROP Program, which stands for "deferred retirement option program". He chose that, which means he can not collect retirement benefits and salary at the same time. So, the money he would have accrued towards retirement can't be collected on until he actually retires. Murphy chose the "5 year plan", and two years into it was named chief. But, now the city ordinance says he must retire.
However, he doesn't want to, so another ordinance is being proposed now to change the entire police pension system. "The centerpiece of the ordinance change for the police department of course, is pension reform, almost 75 million dollars worth of reform," said John Szerlag, Cape Coral's City Manager.
The sponsor of the ordinance is councilman Chris Chulakes-Leetz but was caught off guard when he learned that Chief Murphy changed his ordinance so he could stay on as chief. "The language regarding the ability of the police chief to not participate in the pension was not in there and subsequently was placed in there," noted Chulakes-Leetz. He then asked the city manager, "Could you tell us sir, who placed and who added that language, or changed the language sir? I believe the request came from Chief Murphy," responded Szerlag.
Other council members wanted to make sure they heard right, that the chief wrote part of the ordinance. "I'm hearing the sponsor conclude that he wanted to know who put that language in the contract, and we said Chief Murphy," recalled Derrick Donnell, a councilman in Cape Coral.
Some say this isn't right. "This reeks of hypocrisy," commented on citizen. "It reeks of a good ole boy system if I've ever seen one".
There will be a public hearing where you can give your comments on it in the Cape Coral council meeting September 9th. Murphy has said he will retire in late September. We tried to get a comment from the chief but learned that he's off this week.
What do you think about the chief re-writing part of an ordinance that would benefit himself? Call us at 239-206 Fox Four or send us an email to news@Fox4now.com.