Under state law, two doctors at either a West Virginia University or Marshall University health facility would have to concur that Sands has a medical problem, Payne said. Then the issue would come before the police pension board, he said.
"After that we are bound by what the code says," Payne said.
The process will likely begin in the next two weeks, he said.
If Sands is found not to be physically able to perform the regular duties as a police officer, it is unlikely that he could perform light duty on a permanent basis, Payne said.
"There are temporary light duty assignments at the discretion of the chief. But those are only temporary positions until someone gets better," he said.
If granted, a medical pension would give Sands 60 percent of his last 12 months' gross income, plus up to 4 additional percent if he spent time in the active military, Payne said.
Sands received about $24,000 in regular pay and $12,000 in overtime pay for the first half of 2006, according to the most recent earnings report released by Charleston police. Given those figures, he would receive an early pension of about $36,000 based on a base salary of about $48,000 and $12,000 in overtime pay.
Regular retirement gives officers 60 percent of their last 12 months' gross income after 20 years of service. That pension increases incrementally and maxes out at 30 years and 75 percent, Payne said.
The internal investigation into Sands continues, Webster said.
"[The retirement request] doesn't change anything with me," he said. "We are going to plug along. We are not going to be sidetracked."
To contact staff writer Gary Harki, use e-mail or call 348-5163.