Free Minds & Free Markets

Deputy Who Failed to Engage Parkland Shooter Gets $104,000 Annual Pension for Life

A travesty that sheds light on public retirement costs in Florida and around the country

Joe Cavaretta/MCT/NewscomJoe Cavaretta/MCT/NewscomScott Peterson, the Broward County sheriff's deputy who failed to engage the Parkland high school shooter, is eligible to receive an annual pension in excess of six figures.

The Sun Sentinel obtained records from the Florida Department of Management Services showing that Peterson, who retired in the weeks after the February 14 shooting, is due to collect $8,700 per month. That works out to slightly more than $104,000 a year. Peterson, who is 55 years old, will be able to receive that pension for the rest of his life, and Broward County taxpayers will cover 50 percent of his health insurance premiums.

Peterson earned more than $101,000 during his final year of service, the Sun Sentinel reports. That includes about $75,600 in base salary, with the rest coming from overtime pay and other forms of compensation. As Reason has previously reported, Peterson had been the school resource officer at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School since 2009, and he had been an employee of the Broward County Sheriff's Office since 1985.

That means Peterson put in at least 25 years at the job, an important threshold for accruing pension benefits under state law. The pensions afforded to Florida's sheriffs are based on a calculation that starts with an average of the employee's five highest-paid years. That average is then multiplied by a percentage that varies based on how many years an employee has worked and at what job.

Law enforcement employees and other public employees in so-called "high-risk" positions earn a multiplier of 3 percent for every year worked. (Other public workers earn a lower multiplier, usually 2 percent.) After 25 years of service, a law enforcement employee like Peterson would have earned a pension equal to 75 percent of the average of his five highest-paid years during his final 10 years of employment. Under Florida law, pension payouts are capped at 100 percent of this figure, which is known as a "final annual salary."

This specific situation sheds light on the broader implications of public retirement costs in Florida and around the country. An employee like Peterson, who was by all accounts a typical deputy in the sprawling Broward County Sheriff's Office before his unfortunate rise to national prominence this month, is afforded a retirement package that kicks in at age 52 and allows him to collect a pension even if he pursues other work after his retirement. It's vastly different from what most private sector workers can expect to receive. The difference is premised on the idea that Peterson put his life on the line in a high-risk profession. Except, of course, that Peterson did not put his life on the line when the moment arose.

But the payouts are virtually guaranteed, regardless of performance in the line of duty. Under Florida law, public pensions can be revoked for felony offenses that "breach the public trust." While Peterson's actions in February may fit the spirit of that law, the letter of the law identifies only a few specific crimes—embezzlement, theft, bribery, and child sexual assault—for which pensions can be revoked.

Photo Credit: Joe Cavaretta/MCT/Newscom

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  • Rebel Scum||

    Peterson earned more than $101,000 during his final year of service


  • Don't look at me.||

    Nice "work" if you can get it.

  • rocks||

    Don't worry, the US is well on its way of trashing the dollar, after which government "workers" will find that their $8,700/mo pension won't buy a sandwitch.

    At least that's what happened in Germany.

  • Joe_C||

    Pffft. This dude made $8,700 this month and he didn't even do his job.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    If we're not willing to take care of our heroic first responders then I don't know where we're going as a nation.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    The lesson here is that if we don't first take care of our non-responders, our first-responders are next.

  • Rossami||

    Sarcasm, Fist? I honestly can't tell.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Always presume sarcasm with FoE.

  • WoodChipperBob||

    It's the Reason comments section - a good rule of thumb is always presume sarcasm.

  • ||

    is afforded a retirement package that...allows him to collect a pension even if he pursues other work after his retirement.

    Of all of the problems I have with both this "man" and public sector compensation that isn't one of them. A pension is an earned benefit and should no more be docked for continuing to work than Social Security should be.

  • Rhywun||

    Heh... when the time comes for the government to choose between fulfilling its obligations with respect to public sector pensions versus social security, take a guess which one will win out. Hint: there won't be any fucking social security for the likes of you or me.

  • EscherEnigma||

    Except it's a pyramid scheme. As long as folks are still paying in, it'll keep paying out. It's just that after 2028 (assuming no course corrections) the payout amount will be 70% of the currently promised amount.

    Federal pensions are similar. Yes, they're under-funded, but there's still something there and money going in. It's just that it's not enough for future obligations.

    All that said, yeah, Baby Boomers and Gen X will probably be the last generations that get to retire.

  • EscherEnigma||

    Correction, after looking into it more, it's the CSR pension fund that's underfunded. The FERS fund is just fine.

    And that's not a long-term problem because the CSR system stopped accepting new employees in 1984, so the share of folks on that is getting smaller every year. The other big thing about CSR is that employees under that don't/didn't pay into Social Security and wont' get social security benefits.

    FERS employees, on the other hand, do pay into Social Security, do pay into their pensions, and do pay into their 401(k) equivalents†.

    So the federal pension situation is very different then the state pension situation.
    †I think it's the Thrift Savings Plan for all federal employees, but I won't vouch for that.

  • Presskh||

    In addition, salaried federal civil servants do not get to count paid overtime in their average salary calculations for retirement benefits. State and local law enforcement across the country seemingly play this same game - goosing their last few years of pay by working "overtime" in normally low-stress jobs and then collecting huge retirement benefits for the rest of their lives. There's no doubt why state and local retirement funds are in shambles.

  • Trainer||

    All that said, yeah, Baby Boomers and Gen X will probably be the last generations that get to retire.

    With the exception of those who plan and save for their retirement. That's like saying that if the government doesn't give out free birth control, no one will have birth control.

  • miketol||

    I am a generation Xer. I think by the time I retire, Social Security will be means tested. I am saving for my retirement. I expect the government to tell me "You make too much money" when it is time for me to retire.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    We have a problem with surplus progressives (there are more than zero of them). To fund retirement, merely grab a few of them, and harvest all their organs for profit. A clean sweep, to maximize revenue.

    That should help a lot. Also, progtard policies and politicians will dwindle away.

  • spec24||

    This is not an "earned" benefit. This is a benefit stolen from taxpayers that had little to no say in the matter!! Private sectors don't go out and steal money from third parties if they don't have the funds to cover their pension promises, the government does!

    Social Security is also theft. There is no lock box of funds. Benefits for retirees are paid for by non-retirees. This has ALWAYS been true!

  • loveconstitution1789||

    That comes out to be about $6,141.18 per person killed, every year, for the rest of his life.

  • $park¥ leftist poser||

    My hero!

  • End Child Unemployment||

    Having trouble following the math. If it's capped at 75% of the average of his highest paid 5 years in his last 10 years, and his payout is $104K, that would indicate his highest 5 average was $139K. Danger of working in finance: I can't stop myself from trying to understand these calculations.

  • Rhywun||

    It's a public sector job. Don't even try to make sense of the financials.

  • Rossami||

    1. The article says he worked their "at least" 25 years. If he worked longer, the cap would be greater than 75%.

    2. Assuming it's exactly 25 years, then yes, his highest average would have been $139k. Based only on the data above, he received over a third of his base as overtime in the last year alone, a year that included the scandal. Far higher overtime and other perks in years T-5 thru T-2 seem very plausible.

  • Get To Da Chippah||

    It also said that he'd been an employee of the Sheriff's Dept since 1985. That would make him retiring at 33 years, which would mean he's getting 99% of that average? Or hopefully the additional percentage per year after 25 drops from 3%. Either way, a six figure pension is absurd.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    People are so brainwashed that cops, teachers and firefighters should be handed everything in the world, no matter what.

  • Cynical Asshole||


  • DajjaI||

    Yep. This is a prime motivator for the witch hunt against autistic kids. Because the more autistic kids you can radicalize the more 'resource officers' you need to 'protect' the other kids (and tease the loners).

  • Mickey Rat||

    Such are the societal benefits of public sector unions.

  • ||

    "The difference is premised on the idea that Peterson put his life on the line in a high-risk profession. Except, of course, that Peterson did not put his life on the line...,"

    ...and policing is not a high-risk profession.

    (This report was linked to in a Time article: The Top 10 Most Dangerous Jobs in America. The URL was too long to insert)

    We got the citations!

  • Mark22||

    Use an URL shortener or an HTML A tag!

  • Trigger Warning||

    He'll need it for all the booze he has to pound to silence the screams of murdered children.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Doesn't that presume a certain level of guilt?

  • shortviking||

    Suicide would do a better job.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    Fat chance. Look at Tony. He is one of the most loathsome creatures in all of time and space. I am after him constantly to drink a bottle of Drano. Does he do it? Hell no!

    This guy will be around for decades, as a drain on the system.

  • Lawn Darts||

    Eh. Guy had zero incentive to get killed that day. That's the problem with expecting the police to save you. First, I'm pretty sure it isn't their job to run into gunfire. If it was, police departments could be sued every time they failed to do so, and we'd have no police left. This is precisely why we have the right to self defense.

    If you were only 55, and about to retire, you really don't know what you'd do in a similar situation. Pretending you know is dishonest.

    For me, the issue is not a human being's failure to act. It's that whopping pension that kicks in so young. But, hey, if that's what it takes to get people to be cops...

  • I'm Not Sure||

    You know what else is dishonest? Signing on for a job and not doing it, but expecting to collect a paycheck + retirement as if you had.

  • sarcasmic||

    I've yet to see a government worker who did what was expected. I'm part of the evil MUC. I'm not full of shit.

  • Mark22||

    He complied with all job requirements necessary to receive his pension. I'm not sure what you think is "dishonest" about that.

  • Goonions||

    He did not comply with his job requirements that day. His job was to protect the lives of those kids but he cowered outside while Nicholas Cruz went on a murderous rampage. Some of us have a conscience and would not take money for failing.

  • EscherEnigma||

    As cops continue to successfully argue in court, it is not their job to fight or die for you.

    To put it simply, your idea of what their job is does not match the reality.

  • Headache||

    My idea of what their job is 1) drive around an expensive motor vehicle,2) eat some donuts, 3)on occasion harass a citizen or two, 4) pull over hot looking women hoping for a proposition.

    Does that cover it?

  • markm23||

    So can we prosecute them for fraud when contract renewal time comes around and they all claim to be brave heroes protecting the public at the risk of life and limb?

  • Buddy Bizarre||

    If he had gone to his mass shooter training, he would have known that in the vast majority of cases a mass shooter is confronted by someone armed they either surrender or commit suicide. His risk was relatively low for a situation of that type.

  • CDRSchafer||

    He'll have to live the rest of his life knowing he's a sniveling coward and also that everyone else knows it. I'm sure he wishes he would have done the right thing.

  • CDRSchafer||

    He'll have to live the rest of his life knowing he's a sniveling coward and also that everyone else knows it. I'm sure he wishes he would have done the right thing.

  • CDRSchafer||

    He'll have to live the rest of his life knowing he's a sniveling coward and also that everyone else knows it. I'm sure he wishes he would have done the right thing.

  • spec24||

    Incentive to get killed? That's just stupid.

    And no, people would be police without these fucking pensions.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    "First, I'm pretty sure it isn't their job to run into gunfire"

    Yeah, actually it is when there is an active shooter. Hence their armament, and body armor.

  • markm23||

    "If you were only 55, and about to retire, you really don't know what you'd do in a similar situation. Pretending you know is dishonest."

    I'm 64, not about to retire, and I've had a strong suspicion about what I'd do in a similar situation since I was a kid. THAT'S WHY I NEVER TRIED TO BE A COP! If a cop isn't ready to risk his life to protect the public, why are we paying him a salary, plus fantastic fringe benefits, plus treating him like a hero and often letting him get away with breaking the law?

  • Hank Phillips||

    Being a cowardly sharksucker hath its perks. This particular remora has already helped the spread of Kristallnacht laws by impersonating one of the First Responders™ that prove peasants don't need guns for protection. Now all the other parasites with guns for asset forfeiture clearly see the pelf-pulling power of cop unions to transfer cash from producers to derelicts. To them this is looking like a Win-Win travesty, since winning is, by their definition, getting government paychecks.

  • Rastaman||

    Making more after you retire than when you worked and failing to perform your duties, what a gig! Hopefully he spends most of this on lawyers.

    Gubmint cheese comes in many flavors.

  • Cloudbuster||

    Dude, how do I screw up my job so bad I get a $104k annual pension for life?

  • ace_m82||

    Do literally anything for the government?

  • Cloudbuster||

    I half-heartedly applied for a government job once, while waiting to hear back on another opportunity. I made the "mistake" of being honest on the application questionnaire. I am vastly overqualified for any front line IT job (which this was), but my answers to the questionnaire deemed me unqualified. Remember: Always lie on application questionnaires. You know everything, you've had experience with everything. You at least need to get to the interview to prove you're a good candidate.

  • Mark22||

    but my answers to the questionnaire deemed me unqualified

    It's your failure to "get friendly" with the hiring manager that deemed you unqualified. "Friendly" might mean anything from building an addition to their home for free to giving regular blowjobs.

  • sarcasmic||

    If anyone deserves to be a casualty on the nonexistant war on cops, he is it.

  • sarcasmic||

    wow,that isn' t what i put
    sarcasmic is gone

  • sarcasmic||

    Fuck you all.

  • NoVaNick||

    Think most people fail to realize that the job of the police is to enforce the law (when they feel like it), not to protect anyone, and has been discussed here before many times, they actually are forbidden from putting themselves in any danger. This guy was doing his job then, and so should expect his $100K+ pension.

    I'm being sarcastic here but its true among government employees, and police are no exception. Most of them do the bare minimum because it is discouraged, if not illegal, to go above and beyond that.

  • Gasman||

    3 million dollars.
    That's what it would take in current dollars, to provide 100,000 per year cash, plus 40,000 health insurance for life
    Assumptions, lives to 85 years, growth rate 5%.

    So he's worked only to his early 50's. I feel pretty robust at the exact same age he is, not like I need retirement at this young an age. His retirement will likely be longer than he worked in the first place. And a benefit worth 3,000,000.
    Pretty damn rich, and no wonder so many state pensions are tetering on the brink.

  • Sebastian Cremmington||

    Yep, but unfortunately his pension will be paid because people are moving to Florida. The states that are losing population are the ones that can't afford these pensions. All states should go to a 401k for retirement and Obamacare for health insurance tomorrow and I guarantee you the "quality" of employee will not suffer.

  • spec24||

    Obamacare? HAHAHAHA HAHAHAHA!!!

  • Elias Fakaname||

    Maybe a vengeful member of one of the Parkland families will have him bumped off for his cowardice.

  • I am the 0.000000013%||

    With a reward like that waiting for him, it's no wonder he wasn't willing to risk getting hurt.

  • Half-Virtue, Half-Vice||

    I am going to vomit.

  • BillyG||

    My disbelief is not in him keeping his pension, its in him getting a $104k/year pension at all.

    That includes about $75,600 in base salary, with the rest coming from overtime pay and other forms of compensation.

    Someone needs to look into how they're getting 137.5% of base pay pension too. And if somehow he was getting paid that much overtime, needs to look into the over-time scheduling practices for abuse. OT should not be included in pension calculations.

  • markm23||

    There are cops in California that racked up so much overtime that they retire with $300K pensions. Their pension is calculated on the 3 highest years instead of 5 highest, but it's clear than for 3 years before they retired, they used their seniority to claim all the overtime offered, so much as to approximately triple their pay. That is, when there was a major emergency and off-duty cops were called in, if you had an interaction with cops, not only were you likely to be dealing with a tired cop doing double shifts, but it was a geezer who handled fatigue and lack of sleep considerably worse than a young man.

    And who would have his entire department behind him when he screwed up.

  • texexpatriate||

    This is insane. When it came to the crunch the guy proved useless.

  • santamonica811||

    A travesty? That a man put in a quarter-century of risking his life, and you want to steal his hard-earned pension for one mistake in a time of crisis??? Wow.

  • D-Pizzle||

    He didn't risk his life here when he was tasked with the job of protecting kids. Why should we believe that he ever risked his life?

    If your post was sarcasm, I apologize. I'm new here.

  • Longtobefree||

    Advice for newbies, from none other than John Wayne; (who got it from Henry Fonda)
    "Never apologize Mister, it's a sign of weakness."

  • Dean Tong||

    Where is God?

  • tommhan||

    How could anyone think pensions such as this could ever work out financially for any government? I work for a local government and when I retire next year after 18 years I will get 12 or 13 hundred a month and SS. Ours is only tied to your yearly salary and overtime does not count towards retirement pensions, his probably did count. I know that up north I have read how they work a lot of overtime their last couple of years or so to balloon the pension. Looks like Florida is insane also.

  • Enemy of the State||

    Pension? About the only folks getting pensions anymore are in government. Only government can be that profligate with other peoples' money...

  • Elias Fakaname||

    Just one more reason to get rid of our progressives.

  • Enemy of the State||

    The state takes care of its own...

  • SC Striebeck||

    As sad and ridiculous as it is, whether the benefits were earned or not is irrelevant in the greater scheme economics and governance.

    All government perks, such as early retirement with unlimited and excessively high pensions (that are always funded by taxpayers by nearly always negligent politicians usually seeking votes from union members or other special interest groups), are not available for non-government workers.

    There are few checks and balances in this arrangement relative to what the market would permit. This kind of sloppiness, waste, inefficiency, and sanctioned graft doesn't and cannot last long in the market because in most instances it is economically unsustainable - only under the cloak of government can it persist.

    It is also another great example of how government in itself creates an arbitrary class of people which exist upon the earnings of others created through more consenual transactions. (the best form of checks and balances). Remember, all good and services are produce by individuals, and thus equally subject to the real laws of economics i.e. the Austrian School of Economics.

    If for now we must tolerate government, then it should at least pay its employees the present value of their work, and let them go to the market to build their retirement funds, etc. like the rest of us. I guarantee you that this kind of abuse would nearly vanish.

  • WillPaine||

    We weren't there, we don't know; careful

  • Bayardw||

    In Pennsylvania, Supreme Court justices retire with MORE money in pension than they ever made on the bench.
    Is it any wonder why working people paying the taxes that support all this crap are pissed as hell?

  • Longtobefree||

    Anyone got any ideas on how he got that much overtime working at a school? NO ONE works over 40 hours a week at a school except maybe the custodians mopping up all the blood.

  • WillPaine||

    Longtobefree; and teachers, who are now "us", work every night on homework. My ex is a teacher, and I saw what she went through; I kinda kept track; perhaps we loved to psend as little time in school as we could, but, and teachers work at the least 60 hours a week, plus another 6-10 hours on weekends, at least. I'm 67, and I had some very bad 1-12 grade teachers; I laso had some spectacular teachers, and I know the people in the teaching field today; they work their ass offf, they have kindness and knowledge, and passion for teaching way far and above earlier days, the teachers I had. Now, those teachers are "you", us, I dunno how old you are, but, and I do know...peace

  • WillPaine||

    And Josanaah shouts from the mountainsides, the blood of the children is being spilled by the children; pundits shout Josanaah, for the first time, again. This world in these times requires human sacrifice;"this world"? who, how do such things be? Look with a clear head, beyond anger and pain, and ask, and say. They are us, we are them; our friends, neighbors and loved ones.
    I can call, and in less than a minute, speak to a Maasai warrior keeping watch over lions, so that they will no longer be killed by anyone. That is a change of ancient custom, done within a generation. Change, a word bandied about much, yet coming, to a life economy, and the embrace of all the children, by all the children
    What are we avoiding when we speak with our anger, and fear?

  • chorizo||

    Predictably, this story will gain traction and become the stuff of crusades by talk radio hosts, FNC hosts and a D list celebrity like Tim Allen. However, their anger will not be at the system that provides lavish pay and benefits to useless public employees, or at the politicians and public employees who lobbied for and created the system. Instead the third biggest witch hunt in US history (1. Trump. 2. Salem ) will be limited to THIS cop. Because, you see, he's not really a cop. A real cop would have disarmed that shooter using nothing but his commanding presence. This guy was a coward though. Not a cop, more like a civilian. Yeah fuck that civilian pussy! Who does he think he is, trying to steal food out of the mouths of babies of brave retired cops with growing young families.

    Eventually he'll agree to give up some/all of his pension just to get some peace. Or he'll kill himself just to get some peace. Either way, this crusade ends with the same system in place.


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