The History of the New York City Police Pension Fund
The history of pension plans and pension funds in general dates back thousands of years. Although civil and, even more recently, private pensioning is relatively new to society, military pensions go back as far as the early Roman Empire. When Augustus was the Roman Emperor, he established the first known formal pension plan for the Roman Legions. Within two decades (around 5 or 6 AD) the first permanent pension fund was established.
In England in the late sixteenth century, laws were passed to provide annual payments for disabled British soldiers. Retirement pensions for soldiers were offered by European governments, but these were based on individual cases and frequently subject to questionable social and political motives. Still, by the early 1800’s, many of Europe’s great powers offered formal retirement plans to their military.
In 1857, New York City created the “Police Life and Health Insurance Fund”, which became the first municipal disability plan, benefiting policemen disabled in service, or the families of officers killed in the line of duty. The original fund was comprised of sales of unclaimed stolen property, rewards, voluntary contributions and fines collected for violations of ‘Sunday laws’.
In 1858, there were 1,430 members of the pension-able uniformed police force, and two widows of fallen officers eligible for benefits from the fledgling fund. From its onset, there have been numerous legislative and administrative changes to normalize the payments allocated and how such payments would be funded. Many lessons have been learned over time and over the course of over 140 years, the Fund has come a long, long way.
The present day New York City Police Pension Fund (Subchapter 2, or Article 2 and 2A) was incorporated in 1940, succeeding the Subchapter 1 fund covering New York City Police prior to then. And in the last decade alone great strides have been made to bring the Fund to where it is today. In 1995 legislation was passed to merge Subchapter 1 with Subchapter 2. That same year Housing Authority and Transit Authority Police Officers were merged into the New York City Police Department and with the merge came approximately 7,000 transferred active members from NYCERS.
In 2001, legislation provided Corpus Funding for the Pension Fund to begin operations in September, 2002 at its new location at 233 Broadway in New York City. (Woolworth Building) Over the past decade the workload has quadrupled in size. From limited workspace and technology, the Fund has migrated to a state of the art workplace. From 140 years ago, with only 1,430 Police Officers the Fund now services over 75,000 active and retired members and beneficiaries.