State police chief set to 'double dip' on pay

Michael Gerstein
The Detroit News

Lansing — Michigan State Police Director Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue will receive both a pension and a six-figure salary next year after she is reappointed for another term, according to a Gov. Rick Snyder spokeswoman and the state budget office.

The practice is called “double dipping” and has been criticized by fiscal conservatives such as the free market-oriented Mackinac Center for Public Policy in Midland.

Snyder spokeswoman Anna Heaton and the state police confirmed Friday that Snyder will reappoint Etue in 2018 despite calls for her resignation. The calls came after she shared a meme on her personal Facebook page that called the pro football players who kneel in protest during the national anthem “degenerates” and “millionaire ingrates who hate America.”

Etue has apologized and said the post was “offensive,” but said she won’t resign. Etue apologized a second time over the flap after meeting with members of the Legislative Black Caucus on Thursday, but the caucus has not rescinded its call for her to resign.

Black Caucus Chairman Rep. Sheldon Neeley, D-Flint, called Snyder’s reappointment “disappointing and disingenuous” as he and others await a meeting next week with the Republican governor over Etue’s comments.

“It would almost appear to people that the governor would reward poor conduct and poor decision-making … if this is true,” Neeley said.

“Right now people are not feeling comfortable, especially in black and urban communities,” he continued. “The words that the colonel said left people unsure about the largest law enforcement agency in the state of Michigan protecting them.”

Snyder has reiterated he would not fire her or ask her to resign.

With the reappointment, the state police chief will start collecting her retirement payments from the state next year while she remains police director and receives her regular salary, Department of Technology, Management and Budget spokesman Caleb Buhs said Friday.

“If she does continue to work through 2018, then she would also collect a pension after Feb. 1, 2018,” Buhs said.

Snyder’s office, the state police and the budget department would not reveal Etue’s salary. But MLive reported that public records it obtained this year show that Etue earns a $165,000-a-year salary.

The budget office and Snyder’s office would not confirm what Etue’s pension payout would be. But it appears the state police chief’s pension payout would amount to at least $74,000 a year or more Under a program called the Deferred Retirement Option Plan.

Program participants receive incentive payments as well as monthly pension benefits.

An employee with 25 years on the job and an annual salary of $109,000 would walk away with an additional $435,725 after six years in the program — an average of more than $74,000 a year, according to an analysis done by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy in 2016.

Etue has been with the state police for 30 years.

A deterred retirement program was created by state lawmakers and former Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm in 2004 to let state employees collect their pension and salaries at the same time if they work six years past their initial retirement date.