The city Board of Estimates approved the creation yesterday of a private retirement fund that would allow Police Commissioner Edward T. Norris, 42, to retire at any time and not have to wait until age 50, as required by city pension laws.
The change will allow Mayor Martin O'Malley's administration to remain faithful to written promises it made to Norris in his contract, signed in August 2000. The promises, which guaranteed Norris an immediate pension of 2 1/2 percent of his annual salary for each year served, were a violation of city law requiring that a retiree wait until age 50 before receiving a pension, according to city officials.
Because of this problem, the O'Malley administration decided to avoid the city's normal pension fund and instead buy Norris a $243,067 private annuity.
In a separate action July 10, the board approved a boost to Norris' pension worth $100,000, to encourage him to remain as police commissioner at least until Jan. 1, 2004. These "golden handcuffs" were designed to discourage Norris from accepting other jobs.