Assistant Chief Joseph Kennedy officially retired from the Mobile Police Department this morning, but will remain in a civilian role there, Mobile Police Department Chief James Barber confirmed today.

Kennedy, who has been with the department for 38 years, will officially become the administrative assistant to the chief, or “chief of staff” at the MPD on Friday night, Barber said.

While it’s the first time a civilian has held that position since 2006, Barber said the position has been covered by captains, majors and deputy chiefs in the past, until the MPD defunded some captain and deputy chief positions. Kennedy had previously taken care of those duties as assistant chief, Barber said. The duties include overseeing planning, budgeting, research and inspections, which includes internal affairs, Barber said. For his new role, Kennedy will be paid $65,000 a year.

Because of Kennedy’s retirement, Barber said the department will bring in former Prichard Police Chief Lawrence Battiste to run MPD operations, as assistant chief. Battiste comes to the MPD most recently from Strickland Youth Center. As assistant chief, Battiste will be paid about $110,000, Barber said. That’s the same amount Kennedy was paid before he retired.

While exact numbers related to Kennedy’s pension payout weren’t immediately available, Pension Coordinator Mary Berg said Kennedy will get more than $4,500 a month, based upon his years of service.

Berg and Barber both said Kennedy entered into the Deferred Retirement Option Plan, or DROP, three years ago, and as a result, had to retire by the end of the month, or risk having the pension money that had collected during that period, go back into the plan.

Once an employee begins participation in the DROP program, contributions to the pension plan stop and the money is instead set aside in a separate account, Berg said. At the end of a three-year period, the employee must retire, or the money is put back into the plan, she said. The DROP money comes as a lump sum payment, in addition to the monthly pension benefit, Berg said.

Police officers and firefighters are eligible for the DROP program, after 20 years of service at age 50, or 55, depending on the plan, Berg said. The pension plan reaches its maximum benefit after 30 years of service, Barber said.

Barber said it’s not unusual for a retired officer to seek a second career once he or she has reached the 30 years of service required for maximum pension benefits. In fact, he said MPD officers routinely move to the Mobile County Sheriff’s Office, upon retirement.

He also said there have been instances where sworn officers within the department have retired and come back to work there as civilians. It’s a way for the department to retain experienced officers, he said.

In addition to the these changes, MPD will promote Capt. John Barber and Capt. Philip McCrary to major. William Jackson will be promoted from Lieutenant to Captain, according to a statement from the MPD.