Former Naples police officers, veterans push to get back retirement money

Brad Gallagher and Ryan Harp during their days as military servicemen. Credit: WINK News

Wednesday could mean tens of thousands of dollars for two military veterans who became Naples police officers before sustaining career-ending injuries in the line of duty, as they continue fighting to get back the money they put in a retirement fund.

Brad Gallagher and Ryan Harp put more than $27,000 each into the police pension fund while working as officers in Naples, but the Naples City Council has to amend an ordinance before those former officers can get paid after being permanently disabled. Under the current ordinance, Naples can not provide a refund of pension funds to members who retire under a disability pension.

On Jan. 24, the council approved the first reading to amend this ordinance, and it will vote on adopting that amendment on Wednesday.

Gallagher says he’s glad there’s some momentum on getting this law changed, but he also has some concerns.

“It’s been quite an adventure up and down with the City… it seems like it just got bounced back and forth until, finally, we came to city council, where it looks like it’s going to come to some type of head one way or the other,” Gallagher said. “Obviously, I’m feeling concerned because you never know how a vote’s gonna go until it’s already on the table.”

In total, Naples would be paying the former officers $63,300.

Councilman Mike McCabe is in favor of giving them their money back—he just doesn’t want to amend the current ordinance to do it. He voted against amending it back in January because, if the City chooses to permit refunds of buybacks to disability retirees, there would be an annual additional cost to Naples of around $9,000 to $10,000 a year. McCabe says the city should give Gallagher and Harp their money back out of the general fund and not make any changes to an ordinance.

“Without any further actions, without any changes to a pension plan, without any ordinance or resolution required,” McCabe said. “It seems like a more sensible solution without creating collateral issues or without going through and establishing a policy for something that I say is an instance that’s isolated, at this point.”

The two former officers say that, although they would be happy to get their money, they also want city leaders to amend this ordinance so no other officer has to go through what they’ve had to.

Councilman McCabe has not gotten back to WINK News for comment on that point.

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