Naperville Police Chief Robert Marshall

Naperville Police Chief Robert Marshall (City of Naperville, Handout / May 22, 2012)

A DuPage County judge is expected to decide early next month whether Naperville's police chief is allowed to collect both a salary and pension at the same time.

Judge Paul M. Fullerton's ruling is expected to settle a legal dispute over whether Chief Robert Marshall, formerly a police officer, technically re-entered the police force when he became chief.

Marshall makes $154,775 per year as chief while receiving an annual pension of $104,109 based on his 27-year career as an officer, according to the City of Naperville.

"I think it goes without question that Chief Marshall is a police officer," Assistant Attorney General Tyler Roland said during a Friday court hearing. He noted that Marshall has all the arrest powers of an officer and wears a badge.

Roland argued the position of the Illinois Department of Insurance, which took Marshall's case to court after a Naperville Police Pension Board determined he could collect both the salary and the pension.

But Laura Goodloe, an attorney for the Police Pension Fund, said the way Marshall became chief did not fit the procedure outlined in Illinois code by which a police officer enters the police force. Therefore, the portions of law cited by the Department of Insurance don't apply in Marshall's case, Goodloe said.

"I think what the Department of Insurance is trying to do here today is fit a square peg in a round hole," she said.

While he receives a salary from the department, he lacks other benefits of being a police officer, added Thomas Radja Jr., who argued in Marshall's favor. The chief does not receive the same benefits as other officers, such as disability pay if he were to be injured, Radja said.

Further, depriving Marshall of his pension would violate a state constitutional requirement that retiree pensions remain undiminished in their retirements, Goodloe argued.

Both sides agreed that if Marshall had become chief in another town after retiring from the Naperville force, he could have continued to collect the Naperville pension.

Marshall retired from the force in 2005. He then became Naperville's assistant city manager and started receiving his police pension. He also started contributing to the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund.

In May 2012, he was sworn in as chief. The Department of Insurance challenged his ability to receive both a pension and a salary, and the Police Pension Board sided with Marshall in January 2013.

No Illinois judge has yet ruled on what constitutes re-entry into a police force, Radja said.

Fullerton said he would file a written ruling March 7.

Tribune reporter Melissa Jenco contributed to this report.

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