1 min

Roz retiring soon?

VPD's first gay coordinator wants contract

PENSION HASSLES: Det Roz Shakespeare, the first-ever gay programs coordinator for the VPD, may join dozens of her colleagues by retiring early because of a controversial decision of the Municipal Pension Board. Credit: Robin Perelle

It looks like Det Roz Shakespeare may retire soon, after all. The first-ever gay programs coordinator for the Vancouver Police Department (VPD) originally promised Xtra West readers at least a two-year term, so she could give her new position a solid structure before leaving the force.

Now, she says, she won’t be able to stay that long as a regular salaried officer. It’s the pension cuts, she explains. “To stay on past Nov 30 would cost me $500 a month in my pension.”

Shakespeare is referring to the Municipal Pension Board’s recent decision to scale back supplemental pension benefits for police officers and firefighters. The decision could cost some officers up to $500 a month in lost benefits.

“But I’m not going anywhere, sweetie,” she says. “I promised two years and I’m going to give you two years.”

Up to 117 VPD officers have given notice that they may retire by November because of the pension changes.

Shakespeare is hoping to officially retire in November, then return on contract to resume her duties as gay programs coordinator for the VPD.

But will the VPD and the police union allow that? “I wouldn’t say it’s definite at this point,” she says, “but the offer has been made at the senior management level.” It should just be a question of paperwork.

Insp Dave Jones says it may be a bit more complicated than that.

Though the West End’s top cop says he’s optimistic he’ll be able to get Shakespeare hired back on contract, he says it’s too soon to say for sure. Both the VPD and the union are still adjusting to this new pension problem, he says. There are no guarantees.

Shakespeare says the union shouldn’t have a problem with her returning on contract because she’d just be filling a specialty position-not a regular staff position. This is the best way, she explains. Otherwise, she’d have to work an extra four or five years just to make back what she would lose by staying on.

Shakespeare is confident that everything will work out. “I don’t think there will be any difficulty,” she says. Can you imagine the outcry from the gay community if there were a problem? No one wants that, she says.

Jones, who is now considering retiring himself, says he’ll do what he can to keep Shakespeare on the force.