These words of Thomas Jefferson's are etched under the dome of the Jefferson Memorial in Washington: "I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man." Imagine if Jefferson had finished that thought with these words: "Unless, of course, you're 57 years old and a U.S. federal law enforcement officer."
In the beginning of our republic, our Founding Fathers fought for freedom from governing tyranny, including for those who worked in government. And if a man's work ethic, health and passions allowed him to labor until his dying breath, he did so, even in government.
Today, however, with more government regulations than sand in the sea, those in Washington believe they are socialistic clairvoyants and use the nanny state to determine when citizens are expendable and ready to retire.
Case in point: federal law enforcement officers, who must retire at the end of the month they turn 57. I've known great military personnel and former local community officers, many of whom have been dear friends, who have also served our country as federal law enforcement officers -- for example, as U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement special agents. But when they hit 57 -- even if they were at a zenith of performance in mind, body and soul with many potential contributing years ahead -- they were forced to retire because of a law that is ridiculous and even hurting our country as a universal mandate, often removing from duty and service the best of the best among patriotic servants.
Here's the way one special provision in U.S. law reads:
"A member of the Capitol Police who is otherwise eligible for immediate retirement under section 8336(m) shall be separated from the service on the last day of the month in which such member becomes 57 years of age or completes 20 years of service if then over that age."
There are very few exceptions to this rule, including this one: "The President, by Executive order, may exempt an employee (other than a member of the Capitol Police or the Supreme Court Police) from automatic separation under this section when he determines the public interest so requires."
What a shock. More excuses for presidential overreach and executive orders!
Mandatory retirement is typically justified on the grounds that particular occupations either are too dangerous or require significant levels of physical and mental skill. But what about when officers easily meet those requirements?