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Police Pensioners Told To Come Back To Work Or Lose Their Benefits Say They Aren't Willing Or Able

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Some North Chicago police officers on disability and receiving pensions are now being threatened to either go back to work or lose their pensions.

The case involves eight former police officers who were injured in the line of duty. They say they aren't willing or able to become dispatchers, but they might not have a choice.

"I got hit by a car once," says Brian Carder. "Well, actually twice."

After two hip replacements, a broken hand, broken collar bone, and "a couple concussions," Brian Carder says his 17-years with the North Chicago Police Department took a toll on his body.

When Carder was diagnosed with PTSD in 2009 he was approved for a line of duty disability pension and health benefits, which are now his only sources of income.

But he and his fellow pensioners did not count on the "emergency recall" letter they received in May ordering them to attend orientation for 911 police dispatcher training or lose their pensions.

Carder says he does not know what he would do without his pension.

"I'd be homeless," he said.

In the letter North Chicago's police chief said the dispatch center is "dramatically understaffed."

The situation is due in part to employees leaving for better long-term employment prospects in light of future consolidation.

North Chicago's city attorney declined to comment for this story, and CBS 2 has not heard back from the chief.

After the majority of the former officers didn't show up for dispatch orientation this week, the city filed a motion to revoke their pensions.

The motion says they've transferred other city employees into dispatch even though they have no prior experience either.

Now the police pensioners, several of whom live out of state, are scrambling to figure out what to do.

"Take a person's livelihood away after they already made a pretty significant sacrifice, it's just outrageous," said Brian Carder.

The next meeting before the Police Pension Board is slated for October. The board will have final say over terminating the pensions, but it's possible the former officers could appeal.

In a letter to the officers, the police chief said the dispatch center is dramatically understaffed. At times there is only one dispatcher, and if that person is on another call or needs a break there is no one available.

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