November 15, 2002

Plenty of Pain to Go Around

Agencies look for ways to cope, hope cuts will be smaller

By Melanie Lefkowitz

Cuts in Police Personnel (part of article on budgetary impact)

The Police Department is slimming down by about 2,500 personnel.

Seven hundred non-crimefighting jobs are to be eliminated through attrition, along with 200 part-time positions.

And, the next recruitment class will contain 1,900 fewer seats than planned.

The cuts would shrink the department from 40,710 at the peak last year to 37,210 in this fiscal year, which ends June 30, 2003.

As of yesterday, the department had 38,016 officers - 800 less than the new goal, and still short of the prior budget-cutting target of 39,110, officials said.

To help meet the total $84.2 million deficit-reduction target this year, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly hopes to tap additional federal grants. A tide of retirements has saved the department about $50 million, with veteran officers replaced by rookies earning less, officials said.

Though the department even now is at its lowest point in five years, Bloomberg said further cuts will have no impact on public safety. "Crime is not coming back in this city, period," he said.

Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, said the cuts come at the worst possible time.

"We believe we're at a crossroads with crime and this mayor is taking a wrong turn," he said. "Once crime gets out of control, it takes years to get it in control. We should be increasing the police force at this point, because that will keep the city's economy strong."

Kelly has previously said he wants to save by replacing 800 police officers who work desk jobs with civilians. In a statement yesterday, officials said only 466 of these 800 jobs will now be filled.

Meanwhile, the Correction Department's budget will also shrink, by $42.1 million, on top of an earlier $30.5 million cut. That could mean a loss of 1,276 positions in all, with decreases in overtime.

"The bottom line is, we're going to be doing more with less," Correction Department spokesman Tom Antenen said.