Eight former North Chicago police officers have been ordered to become 911 dispatchers for the department or face losing their pensions after they retired because they were injured in the line of duty.

Retired North Chicago Police Officer Brian Carder said during his 17 years of service with the department, he was hit by a vehicle in the line of duty on two occasions, according to CBSLOCAL.COM.

During those incidents, he suffered a broken clavicle, a broken hand, and a couple of concussions, and then underwent two hip replacements, he said.

Officer Carder was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in 2009 and retired with a line-of-duty disability pension and health benefits.

He said that those are his only sources of income now.

Officer Carder and seven other pensioners received an “emergency recall” letter from the North Chicago Police Department (NCPD) in May, ordering them to attend training for 911 dispatcher positions.

The letter informed the retired officers that the 911 center of the department is “dramatically understaffed” due in part to an anticipated department consolidation.

Therefore, the employees have been leaving the agency to accept long-term opportunities with other departments.

But Officer Carder said that he and his fellow pensioners were unable and unwilling to return to work. Since leaving NCPD, some have even moved out of state.

When most retired officers failed to show up for the recent dispatcher orientation, the city submitted a motion to revoke their pensions.

The city also noted that current city employees have already been reassigned to handle dispatch duties despite having no experience.

“Take a person’s livelihood away after they already made a pretty significant sacrifice, it’s just outrageous. I’d be homeless [without my pension],” Officer Carder said.

The Police Pension Board will ultimately decide whether or not the pensions of the former officers will be terminated, and are due to meet in October.

Police chief Lazaro Perez from North Chicago and the city attorney’s office refused to comment on the issue.

Categories: U.S. Illinois