July 12, 2002

PBA On Escapes: Cops 'Overworked'

By Leonard Levitt Staff Writer

The day after police commissioner Ray Kelly announced the formation of a task force to address the apparent epidemic of escaped prisoners, police union president Patrick Lynch blamed the problem in part on what he termed "overworked cops."

"Given the serious shortage of police officers, the lousy equipment and horribly designed police and hospital facilities, it is a testimony to the good work of police officers that so few prisoners have escaped," Lynch said.

So far this year, there have been 17 escapes from NYPD custody and four attempted escapes, including eight escapes in the past two months.

Earlier this week, Mayor Michael Bloomberg criticized the department for the apparent rash of escapes.

On Thursday, Kelly held a news conference in which he produced graphs and charts to show that the number of escapees was in fact no more than in recent years.

But while taking pains to cite the cops for reducing the city's crime rate, Kelly added that the apparent rash of escapes hurt the department's image and said that the officers who allow prisoners to escape could face suspension.

Responding to Kelly on Friday, Lynch said in a prepared statement, "We are calling on the NYPFD management to be fair and honest in their assessment of this problem and not to penalize dedicated, overworked police officers who are fighting agaisnt all odds to keep criminals in custody. It is much easier to suspend a cop than to fix the real problem ..."