Madison Police Captain Jon Pardo announced his retirement Thursday, effective April 26.
Pardo said following the Madison Police Commission meeting Thursday, where he announced his retirement, that is leaving to protect his benefits, which are tied to the union contract. Police officers currently covered under a contract negotiated in 2005 will lose certain medical and pension benefits in retirement if they don't leave by June 30th.
"If you don't go by then, you don't get it," Pardo said of the generous medical benefits. Pardo said he wanted to be very clear that is why he is leaving.
Other retirements possible
Lt. Allen Gerard and Officer John McDevitt recently decided to retire for similar reasons, said Madison Police Chief Jack Drumm. He said there are several other experienced officers who are also covered by the 2005 contract. He said he has not yet heard anything official from them.
Drumm said Pardo has been a loyal, devoted servant to the town of Madison who will truly be missed.
"I admire his wisdom and perspective," Drumm said. "We'll miss that and we wish him well in retirement."
Long-time service will be missed
He said the long-time service Gerard and McDevitt provided to the town will be missed as well.
"Two seasoned officers arrived at a decision to move on to other ventures," he said. "I admire their courage to make that decision, it's not an easy one."
Gerard said he has heard that other officers are evaluating whether it is in their best financial interests to retire. He said the decision was a difficult one, particularly now that the department is running smoothly under a new chief.
"No one knows for sure what will happen"
"They all have until June 30 to decide, which is when the current contract and pension expires and a new one is re-negotiated in. No one really knows for sure what will happen so any decisions are just a gamble based on an educated guess. They may just all stay and work happily ever after," he said.
Gerard said he considered retiring in 1999 at 20 years.
"But, every time I was contemplating retirement, some major dilemma or scandal happened and someone would inevitably request that I stay on for a while longer. I did, because I wanted to support MPD and didn't want to abandon a sinking ship," he said. "Now things have stabilized and I just thought it was time and would be nice going out appreciated, on top, with respect."
Spending time with family
Like Pardo, Gerard said he has no immediate plans.
"I have no immediate plans other than just spending as much time as possible with my family for the time being," he asid. "I have some catching up to do regarding personal goals and objectives. I'll likely explore and entertain other various career opportunities in the fall."
Pardo said the same thing, that he is looking forward to spending time with his family.
"I don't want people in town to think I'm abandoing them"
"I don't want people in town to think I'm abandoning them," said Pardo, who is something of a hometown favorite. He lives in Madison with his wife, who teaches at Island Avenue School, and two children. He attended Daniel Hand High School and has numerous other relatives in Madison and surrounding towns.
“Grandparents, aunts and uncles, you name it,” he said . “The best part of my job is being from the community and being part of the community. I grew up here. My family is here. My kids go to school here. Being part of the community is important to me.”
Pardo said Thursday that has not changed. He said the current police commission "has been nothing but good to me. They took a chance on me and I hope it's not something they regret."
"My family and I sat down and made a financial decison"
But, in the end, he said "my family and I sat down and made a financial decision. In 2005, the contract that was negotiated, we got a great deal. We got a great pension."
Pardo said nothing about his departure should be perceived as adversarial. "This is purely, exactly what it looks like," he said.
Pardo said he has no specific plans for what to do next, but that he is evaluating different options.
"The town of Madison has been very good to me"
"As you know, my wife is a teacher in town. So, worst case scenario? I'll take the summer off and enjoy it with my wife and kids. And that actually sounds like a good option at this point," he said.
But he said he will miss working for Madison.
"The town of Madison has been very good to me," he said.
Editor's Note: This story was updated Friday, April 13, 2012 to include comments from Madison Police Chief Jack Drumm and Lt. Allen Gerard.