January 13, 2003

Cops-Turned-Pols Pan Layoff Plan

Council members say NYPD job cuts would lead to rise in crime

By Herbert Lowe STAFF WRITER

Two City Council members, both former police officers, yesterday warned that threatened Police Department layoffs would result in more crime citywide.

Council members Hiram Monserrate (D-Corona) and James Davis (D-Brooklyn) each served 12 years with the department and joined the Council last year. Both serve on the Council's Public Safety Committee.

"We're here not only as legislators but as former law enforcement officers saying layoffs are a bad thing and ... this needs to be one of the agencies where we can definitely not do more with less," Monserrate said at a City Hall news conference.

All city agencies are expected by today to submit their latest budget proposals to the Office of Management and Budget.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has said repeatedly that all city departments must reduce their budgets.

"If we can get the police, for example, to do more with less, then we won't need layoffs," Bloomberg said Friday on his weekly radio show. "If we can't find ways, or if everybody can't agree on ways to do that, it will probably come down to that."

Two days earlier, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said it would be "very difficult" to reduce the department's budget by another 3 percent, as the city's budget office has requested, without layoffs.

Such a 3 percent cut of about $94 million could mean the loss of 1,500 entry-level officers in the department's first layoffs of police officers since the 1970s.

Davis said layoffs should not be an option.

"We must keep our streets safe at all costs - but on the same token we cannot afford layoffs," he said.

Davis suggested that one way to reduce police costs without layoffs would be to pair more rookies with veteran officers, instead of having veterans working with veterans. That way, he said, after an arrest is made, the lower-paid rookie, if overtime is needed, could process the suspect and handle the paperwork alone - allowing the veteran, who makes more money, to not have to work the extra hours.