Retirement; Knowing When to Pull the Plug

Retirement is scary. The thought of leaving your comfort zone and putting yourself in a position to start over, is simply terrifying. But, when it’s that time, you will know. I understand that this may not be as helpful as you wish so I will explain a few steps I went through before my retirement nine years ago. First of all, I spent thirty plus years on the Chicago Police Department; the vast majority of it was good. At the end I was working days in the slowest district in the city. I had a 7 minute ride to work and I worked with some great people. But, as I drove to work I noticed I was getting angry the closer I got to the district. It was then I realized it was time to go.

Planning a retirement starts twenty years before the actual date. You have to prepare and do your due diligence. Work extra jobs to bank that needed cash. Construct a wealth building stock portfolio, no matter how small. Pay that mortgage down even if it’s only a few extra dollars per month. Get all the education you may need in the future. Keep in relatively decent physical shape, and take care of any ailments or surgeries you may need before you retire.

Now listen to your heart. If it’s time to go, you will know it. If you still love the job, stay with it. If the job isn’t what you can handle in today’s police bashing climate, get out before you put your pension in jeopardy.

Talk to the personnel department in person and make sure all your papers are in order. In my case, the city had me single with two kids. My wife wasn’t pleased. Make sure all the dates and birthdays are correct. Talk to payroll if you can and request a retirement figure that you will see on every check. Remember to save money for the 30-60 days you will be in hiatus between the regular paycheck and the retirement paycheck. Request a total sum payout from any duty related monies you will receive after retirement, sick time, vacation time, holiday pay, uniform allowance, etc. I received a nice check for my accrued time and rewarded myself with a car and new golf clubs. The rest went into a new stock retirement account.

Figure out what type of work you want to do after retirement. I suggest nothing close to police work unless it’s extremely lucrative. Try something new and different: something that if you don’t like it, you can quit any time. Whatever you do it must be something where you don’t need the money and something you always wanted to try. Maybe go back to school and take classes. Take judo lessons, learn to dance, volunteer work, do something! You need a reason to get up, shave and shower every day. Get into a rhythm.

Immediately after you retire, take a trip, maybe a cruise. Go indulge yourself for the years of sacrifice and dedication. When you get home, you will feel like you’re on vacation. Work around the house and play catchup. Get all those odd jobs done. Go out to dinner and a show. Get back into the social world. Start that part time job when you’re ready, don’t rush into anything. Relax, you earned it.

Remember, even after retirement, you can always have coffee or lunch with old friends. Plan on it and you will find yourself busier now than when you were working. Congratulations and enjoy the next level in your life.

Larry Casey, sergeant (ret.), Chicago Police Department – Having had a grandfather and father on the Chicago Police Department made the choice of becoming a police officer relatively simple. Between the excitement of having a real profession and the prospect of following in the Casey footprint, the Chicago Police Department seemed a natural choice. I donned my recruit uniform in November 1977, at the age of twenty-five. After seventeen years of patrolman status, I was promoted to sergeant. As a supervisor I continued my learning and teaching for thirteen years of overseeing young men and women until 2008. I retired at the age of fifty-six after thirty years of a very wide variety of police work and assignments, narcotics, burglary, robbery, community policing, school security, anti-terrorist, CAPS duty, etc.

In 2002 I received my Bachelor of Arts degree from Lewis University, and in 2005, I earned my Masters of Science degree, also from Lewis University. After a few months of relaxation, I started my new career as an adjunct professor of Criminal Justice at Wilbur Wright College. I have been teaching there for the last nine years.

Trading thoughts about my police experience led me to write a book of my memories. I did not want to bore people with the typical police stories of shoot-em ups. And seeing I was always a proponent of humor being a policeman’s best outlet for stress and pressure, I decided it was appropriate of me, to write a very different genre of police book. My compilation of short stories is based on the humorous side of police work. Mainly I detail accounts that rarely make their way to the public’s ear. Honesty is also a base for many memories, stories that were too raw or considered too embarrassing for the everyday reader.

I’m very proud to say, I teamed up with the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation and I send them a donation for every book I sell through Pay-Pal or at book signings. I have done book signings for charitable events, for police vests, local libraries, GOP sponsored charitable events, local community events and many others.

My main goal in writing this book was to entertain and educate the public: to show that police officers are fathers, mother, sisters and brothers, etc. We’re real people with hearts and souls. We laugh and cry like everybody else. We change tires and diapers, go to ball games and wash our cars. We’re simply human.