Facing a hostile crowd and a police association official who warned of a bitter legal battle, the Fort Worth City Council has rejected an offer from police to increase their own contributions to shore up the city employee pension plan.Instead, on Tuesday the council adopted a city staff proposal to reduce benefits for the future service of all city employees except firefighters, who are covered by a separate collective bargaining contract.It should have been a sobering moment for the Fort Worth Police Officers Association, which waged a bitter public relations campaign against the staff proposal, saying it amounted to "telling police officers to not risk their lives saving citizens."That line must have been dreamed up by a political consultant, maybe even a highly paid one. Police are dedicated professionals who know well the dangers of their jobs yet still answer the call because that's who they are. No one in Fort Worth need fear that they won't.The council's 8-0 vote, with District 8 Councilwoman Kelly Allen Gray abstaining, was its most significant show of backbone in years of anguished efforts to trim the retirement plan's unfunded accrued liabilities. The council vowed to hold the line on city contributions to the plan but struggled to find a politically palatable way to do so in difficult economic times.Even as the city's contribution has soared to $78 million a year and climbing, the plan's unfunded liabilities have reached more than $748 million. Without changes in the plan, that amount wouldn't be paid off for more than 80 years, possibly never, a city actuarial report shows.Police association President Steve Hall predicted an expensive legal battle because the Texas Constitution protects public employees' accrued pension benefits. Councilman Jungus Jordan said both sides will probably "lawyer up."That's not necessary. A plain reading shows that the constitution allows forward-looking pension plan changes and protects only the benefits of an employee who leaves before the changes go into effect or benefits the employee is due "without accumulating additional service under the retirement system."The council's action passes constitutional muster. Neither side should spend more money on lawyers over this.