March 22, 2006

NYPD street beat to grow by 1,200

Mayor says even though crime is down, new demands justify adding officers at cost of $34M in first year


NEW YORK --Population growth and the demands of counterterrorism have Mayor Michael Bloom- berg seeing blue.

Reversing years of shrinking ranks and budget cuts, Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly announced plans yesterday to add 800 cops and 400 civilian employees to the NYPD at an initial cost of $33.8 million.

Though crime is at a 30-year low and still falling, and Bloomberg often emphasizes the need for fiscal belt-tightening, the mayor maintained that the time to add cops is now.

"We have the luxury of doing it now so that we can recruit and train and deploy our resources before there's a problem," he said at a City Hall news conference, flanked by Kelly, Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan) and Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Queens), who chairs the Public Safety Committee.

"There's probably no investment as good as keeping crime coming down," the mayor said. "That's why tourists come here and spend money; that's why companies come here and open up; that's why people come here to live and to enjoy themselves and to go to school."

The size of the police force has fallen to about 36,400 from a high of 40,710 in 2001, mostly through attrition fueled by retirements. Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, about 1,000 cops have been reassigned to counterterrorism efforts, stretching thinner the number of those doing day-to-day police work.

The new cops will bring the number of officers, currently under its budgeted count of 37,038, to 37,838, Kelly said. The first 400 new cops will be hired for the July class, with the rest beginning in January 2007.

The added resources of 800 officers - as well as 400 civilians, who can free up desk-bound cops for police duties - will bolster the city's efforts to keep reducing crime in the face of a projected population boom of 200,000 people over the next five years, Bloomberg said.

Kelly predicted that the number of officers doing counterterrorism work would stay about the same, and that the bulk of the new cops would be assigned to patrol, with 10 to 15 percent going to the transit and housing bureaus.

As of Sunday, crime was down nearly 3 percent compared with the same period last year, and the number of homicides across the city was 106, up 1.9 percent from 104 slayings over the same period last year.

"You can't just sit back and rest on your laurels," Bloomberg said. "I don't want to wake up and find crime going up and then have to build up the Police Department. You want to make the investment today, and I think the NYPD has shown that they're using the public's money wisely."

This boost is the largest expansion the department has seen since 1993, when thousands of cops were added as part of the Safe Streets/Safe City program.

Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, predicted that the NYPD will have trouble finding willing recruits. Under the current contract, recruits earn a yearly salary of $25,100 during their six months of Police Academy training, though it jumps to $32,700 when they graduate.

"Unless New York City makes police officers' top pay competitive with other law enforcement agencies, they simply will not get enough good quality candidates to become NYC police officers," Lynch said in a statement.

The cost of the increase will begin at $33.8 million in 2007 but grow to $80 million by 2010. Bloomberg and Kelly said it was hard to say whether the increase in officers would affect the department's $400 million annual overtime spending. The NYPD's 2006 budget was about $3.6 billion.

The city can absorb the initial costs, but the increasing price tag could be a challenge in the future, said Doug Turetsky of the Independent Budget Office.

"When you get to 2010, we have right now a projected shortfall, so it's a matter of priorities and what the mayor and the council think is best for the city," Turetsky said.

Staff writer Luis Perez contributed to this story.

Keeping the peace The New York Police Department is to hire 800 uniformed officers from now through next year. A look at the size of the force since its beginnings.


NYC Population Cop-to-Resident Ratio
# of Officers
1845 400,000
1 to 444
1882 1.3 million
1 to 520
1900 3.4 million
1 to 453
1930 7 million
1 to 389
1975 7.9 million (1970)
1 to 249
1980 7 million
1 to 301
2001 8 million
1 to 197
Current 8.1 million
1 to 223