Chief-Leader
February 4, 2013

 

Despite Likely Cop Exodus, Budget Not Expanding Ranks

By RICHARD STEIER 

Patrick Lynch; Decries scapgoating     

PATRICK J. LYNCH:  Beef up force now

 

Under Mayor Bloomberg’s proposed budget, police hiring will continue to be based strictly on replacing officers who leave the NYPD, even though an unusually large complement of cops—who were brought on the job between August 1993 and February 1994 under the Safe Streets, Safe City expansion of the force—will become eligible to retire during the coming fiscal year.

Captains Endowment Association President Roy Richter last month noted that during that six-month period, 5,342 officers were hired, more than twice as many as would normally be inducted into the Police Academy during that timespan. It is not known how many of those rookies from two decades ago have remained on the job, but Mr. Richter noted that roughly 85 percent of cops who stay long enough to qualify for a full pension choose to retire upon reaching that milestone at their 20th anniversary in the department.

Loss of Experience Hurts

Last year, 1,900 officers left the NYPD; it is likely the totals for this year and next will far exceed that, he had said in an interview. When the department is required to replace huge numbers of experienced officers through a combination of promotions and new hiring, he said, “you’re going to have the new officers but they’re not going to have the training” to completely fill the vacuum.

The Mayor, asked last week during his budget press conference whether that was a concern, said he was confident that the department would have its pick of top-caliber replacements. “This is a phenomenally attractive job,” he said, adding, “We’ve shown that we know how to train them.”

Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly interjected that the new, larger and more-comprehensive Police Academy in Queens is scheduled to open in December. Mr. Bloomberg contended that the proof that nothing would be lost in the transition was that under his administration there had been “11 years of crime going down consistently...and we’re doing this with 6,000 fewer cops.”

Mr. Kelly, in an interview following the press conference, echoed those sentiments. Noting that “it’s not clear [how many officers] we’re going to lose,” he cited the NYPD’s “aggressive and well-run recruiting operation” to justify his lack of anxiety about replacing a larger-than-normal contingent of officers.

“I think we’ll do fine, ultimately,” he said.

PBA Head Worried

Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association President Patrick J. Lynch did not share that confidence, however. “This administration’s systematic reduction of police resources has left our local precincts seriously understaffed already,” he said in a statement. Expressing the same concern as Deputy Inspector Richter about “much higher than normal retirement rates” later this year, he continued, “Our fear is that when the city realizes their mistake, it will take far too long to beef up the force and we’ll lose all the gains we’ve fought so hard to achieve on our streets. This budget demonstrates a serious lack of vision toward the Police Department.”

One mayoral candidate, ex-City Comptroller William C. Thompson Jr., said early this year that if elected he would increase the police force by 2,000 officers above attrition replacement because he believed cops were already being stretched dangerously thin as a result of the reductions under Mr. Bloomberg.

The candidate who will have the most say in deciding the size of the force while Mr. Bloomberg is still in office, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, did not mention the size of the NYPD in her response to the Mayor’s budget presentation. She instead focused on areas where he plans on making significant cuts, including the reduction of 700 teaching and other pedagogical jobs through attrition the remainder of the current school year and the loss of 1,800 teaching jobs to attrition starting in September.