By Steve Large

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – Sacramento’s top cop is calling it quits, but the checks will sure keep coming. At 53 years old, Chief Rick Braziel will pocket a pension of about $200,000 a year for life.

The chief made the announcement Wednesday that he’ll be stepping down next month.

Braziel says he’s always loved coming to work, maybe now more than ever. In his public remarks to reporters, he said the reason he’s retiring is because now is a good time to transition to a new leader. There was nothing about the fact that he’ll have virtually the same compensation without working.

“You don’t know when you’re at your peak of your career, but I can tell you, I can’t think of it getting any better than this,” said Braziel.

Braziel says he’s retiring after shepherding his police force through five years of cuts, so that someone else can rebuild it.

“It’s the right time. We’re at the time the next chief needs to build the department back,” he said.

However, pension reformer Marcia Fritz says Braziel is likely retiring because his pension will pay him so much to leave, it simply doesn’t pay to stay.

“The pension system discourages top managers like our chief to continue to work longer in jobs that they love,” said Fritz.

Braziel’s salary is $207,000 per year. With 33 years on the force, he’s due $201,000 without going to work.

“It’s fiscal follies for him to continue to work, and he saw that,” said Fritz.

Braziel’s pension will top those of his most recent predecessors, former Chief Albert Najera, who receives $172,000, and Chief Arturo Venegas, who receives $60,000 a year.

“Retirement is kind of a difficult term. I’m not retiring, I’m just leaving one career and then I’ll figure out what I’m going to do next,” said Braziel.

“That’s what a pension’s all about. It’s to retain good talent, and what it’s done is the opposite,” said Fritz. “We’re losing really good police chiefs like Braziel.”

Back at City Hall the search is on for a new chief. Braziel says he’ll be pushing the new chief to be hired internally.

His last day on the job will be Dec. 28. Braziel says he has no immediate plans to pursue other career opportunities.


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