Re: State pension or increased earning potential?
When my agency put everything on computers in the early 80s, they put games on the machines to lure the Luddites in. One of the toys they had was a "how much will my pension be?" game. If you answered the question about your length of employment with anything more than three or four years from retirement the response was "what are you looking here for? You could be fired or indicted next week, get back to work!" Some sense of humor huh?
Seriously, the pension is a very nice thing - provided you make it there. Most do, but there was one point I was not clear on from your original post. Do you carry a badge and are just working in admin, or are you a civilian support person? The difference being that politicians are loathe to layoff cops because of the heat they get from the public. Civilians are less protected generally, and here we have a long history of civilian positions being an easy target for budget cuts. They lay off support staff and then pull cops off the street to have them sit at desks. Stupid, but you seldom see any numbers on where the badge carriers are assigned - just a proclamation that "we have xxxx police officers!"
I have had a lot of friends and coworkers leave over the years for the greener grass of higher salaries in the civilian world. Especially when the economy was really booming here locally. But, while some of them suceeded a lot of them came back (or wanted to). For some the boom ended and they were laid off along with a lot of other folks, or their fledgling business tanked as the money dried up. Others found that, like the guys in Ghost Busters, in the private sector "they expect results!". Those were the guys who were cut out for civil service jobs, or as some have said "I became a cop because that work stuff looks hard". As a cop, one tends to get used to a certain degree of job protection through civil service laws. They can still screw with you, but you in most places they have to make a really good case to fire you. In the private sector it takes a lot less for you to be cleaning out your desk. A few of those that left found they were barred from re-employment here because of medical conditions that they developed while working here (vision and hearing being the most frequent problem for some).
If you get to keep your health insurance after you retire, well that is a very, very good thing. One friend of mine left to be an accident reconstructionist. The insurance companies were just throwing money at him because he was good at what he did. In fact, he kept raising his prices just to try and keep the phone from ringing so much. Then, after doing that for five or six years, he had a heart attack. The insurance paid only so much and then it was all coming out of his pocket. His condition was relatively minor and he rehabed very well (better condition that his chubby butt had been in ever before) but he could not buy insurance at anything less than a rate that would bankrupt him. He came back to the PD and as he had been gone so long he had to go back through the 6 month academy. It was the only way he could get insurance.
My intent is not to scare you away from jumping ship and making the big bucks, but just to point out to you some things to consider. There are a lot of success stories out there. The ones who seem to do very well are the ones who are self-employed. Private investigators, lawyers, construction companies, and even one multi-millionaire who sells after market auto accessories in a big way.
There is no pleasure in having nothing to do; the fun is having lots to do and not doing it. - Andrew Jackson