"There is no guarantee": CMPD official says employee retirement fund could go away

Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department employees are worried about getting retirement money in the volunteer Police Pledge Fund.

After a FOX 46 story, CMPD sent out an email detailing to members exactly how funds are passed out.  

It’s a volunteer program that’s members include almost half the department. CMPD says there are about 1100 members in the Police Pledge Fund and about 2400 employees in the department.

CMPD employees put $5 into the fund from each paycheck, in good faith they will receive $10 from each member when it’s time to retire.

“The Pledge Fund was well intended. It was intentionally designed to offer a gift when someone retired from the department. The way the Pledge Fund is set up is when someone retires, the money is collected, and then the money is immediately written back out to that retiree. So what’s happened over the years is that there have been more retirees then we have been able to keep up with," said Deputy Chief Jennings, who oversees the fund and is also a member.

Deputy Chief Jennings took over as President of the Board a couple months ago, and says records start in 1981 but has references the program started 15 years prior.

"We don’t really have an exact time it started we believe it was in the 1966," he said. 

LINK: Concerns raised about retirement fund for CMPD officers

FOX 46's Lauren Dugan sat down with the man in charge to get answers why they say the fund is short. Our first question was concerning where the money is kept.

Jennings: "I think that’s the biggest misconception is that there is a bank account. [That] couldn’t be further from the truth. The way the pledge fund is set up is that the money is collected and then immediately written back out."

Dugan: "So one of my questions is… you said it’s not in a bank account. But when $5 is taken out of each person’s pay check, where does that money go?"

Jennings: Let me correct that it is in a bank account. That money is not stored in a bank account. When a check comes in that money is deposited into a bank account and goes right back out.”

Dugan: “It doesn’t make sense to me that you would give $5 from your paycheck in hopes of getting it back. There’s no guarantee.”

Jennings: “Absolutely. There is no guarantee, I don’t think it was ever put out in the department that this is a financial investment.”

Right now five people are on the formal board that was formed a couple months ago. Board members include Jennings, a treasurer, two deputy chiefs, and a civilian employee. Prior to that, only one person ran the fund. 

Dugan: “Don’t you think it’s irresponsible that one person was overseeing this fund? And what could be done with the money.”

Jennings: “There was no ‘what could be done with the money?’ It was obvious that the money comes from the city. The money immediately gets deposited. The money immediately gets written back out.”

He says money was never borrowed from the account.

Jennings: “Every dime from the Pledge Fund has gone to retirees. For someone to say that there was money borrowed or that there is misappropriation of the funds is absolutely irresponsible. The money is all accounted for, the money is there.  We can confirm that all the money has been paid to retirees.”

Dugan: “When did you notice there is a shortage in the funds and you weren’t able to keep up with it”

Jennings: “Okay, that’s been going on for a while.”

The future of the fund is up in the air.

Jennings: “I think we owe it to the officers who have contributed to the fund that that just doesn’t go away”

Dugan: “Is there a potential for to just no longer exist?”

Jennings: “Oh certainly there is. If we can’t come to a decision and make this sustainable I think that’s the only option.”

Over the next week, Jennings says they hope to meet with each member to answer questions and discuss potential solutions for the future of the Police Pledge Fund.