Chief-Leader
March 18, 2013

 

Reduction of 837 Cops by Attrition Sparks Heat From Council and PBA

Unusual Number of Retirements

By MARK TOOR

PATRICK J. LYNCH: Judge provided justice.    
PATRICK J. LYNCH: Judge provided justice.  

The NYPD, already 6,000 cops below its peak staffing in 2001, will lose even more officers next year, Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said last week at a City Council budget hearing where he heard complaints from Council Members about stop-and-frisk, police discourtesy and other issues.

Mayor Bloomberg’s proposed budget calls for 34,600 officers in fiscal year 2014, which starts in July, he said. This year the department has 35,437 officers. Mr. Kelly said he hopes to move up a class scheduled to start in January 2014 to July to help deal with staffing shortages.

Expect a Major Exodus

Mr. Kelly attributed the drop in numbers to anticipated retirements by some of the 10,000 officers hired between 1992 and 1995 under the Safe Streets, Safe City program. That bump in hiring was funded by a special income-tax surcharge. Officers become eligible for a full pension on their 20th anniversary of NYPD service.

The Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association has decried the steady shrinking of the department. “With gun violence on the rise, a plan to further reduce the size of an already bare-bones police force can only be seen as insane,” Patrick J. Lynch, president of the union, said in a statement last week. “The NYPD is understaffed and completely demoralized, and that is dangerous for the public and for our members.”

“The city’s first obligation is to provide public safety,” he continued, “and that mandates that policing become a budget priority. Without safe streets, nothing else matters.”

Peter F. Vallone Jr., chair of the Council’s Public Safety Committee, said he was not happy with the news. “We are already down at record low levels, and 459 less police officers is not acceptable,” he said.

OT Cheaper Than Hiring

He and Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley asked Mr. Kelly whether it was cheaper to hire new officers than to pay massive amounts of overtime, the bill for which rose $30 million last year.

“Not necessarily,” Mr. Kelly said. “It’s actually cheaper to have an OT tour than a straight-time tour.” He said more officers would make more arrests, requiring more overtime to process them.

On other police issues, Councilwoman Helen Foster described how she was cursed by a police officer as she was stopped on Arthur Ave. in The Bronx. She said she identified herself as a Council Member and told the officer she was waiting for her 80-year-old mother.

“He said, I don’t give a s--- if she’s 100,” Ms. Foster said. “And at that point, I was like, ‘Whoa.’ It takes a lot to bring me to tears, but it brought me to tears.”

Stop-and-Frisk Skirmishes

Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez asked Mr. Kelly, “How much will the NYPD save if, instead of having police officers take the time to do a stop-and-frisk of innocent people, we direct those police officers to go after the real criminals?”

Mr. Kelly fell back on Mayor Bloomberg’s characterization of New York as the safest big city in America and said, “Something is going right here.”

After the Commissioner said the number of stops had dropped last year, Councilman Jumaane Williams, a prominent critic of the way the NYPD handles stop-and-frisk, said he should have mentioned that the murder rate had also gone down.

“You know they’re working,” Mr. Kelly responded, referring to stop-and-frisks. In fact, despite the claims of the Bloomberg administration, no scientific study has ever proven a correlation between stop-and-frisk and the crime rate.

Clash Over Shooting

Mr. Kelly and Mr. Williams also clashed over recent disturbances in Mr. Williams’s district sparked by a police shooting that killed 16-year-old Kimani Gray. Police said the youth was pointing a revolver at officers, but one witness and his mother both claimed he was unarmed.

Mr. Williams said the way Mr. Kelly discussed the disturbances denigrated their message. He invited the Commissioner to walk the streets of his district with him. Mr. Kelly declined, saying Mr. Williams was just looking for a photo op.