New York 1 News

January 9, 2003

NYPD Considers First Layoffs Since '70s Fiscal Crisis


For the first time since the fiscal crisis of the 1970s, the NYPD may have to lay off police officers.

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said Wednesday it would be “very difficult” to cut another 3 percent from the budget, as ordered by Mayor Michael Bloomberg this week, cutting jobs.

The NYPD has already seen its ranks shrink from nearly 41,000 officers in 2000 to 37,800 now, with a projected force of 37,210 by July. Cutting another 3 percent, or $94 million, from the budget could mean eliminating another 1,500 officers, bringing the force down to 35,710.

“We live in tough times from a fiscal point of view,” the mayor said Thursday when asked about the possibility of job cuts. “But I think if there’s any part of city government that shows just because you cut the budget doesn’t mean you have to cut the services. The NYPD is the stellar, prime, number one, exhibit A of how you can do more with less.”

Officials emphasize that any layoffs included in Kelly’s report, due Monday, would only be recommendations on how to slash the budget. The commissioner said retirements could alleviate some of the need for layoffs, as could extra cash from the federal government.

Kelly is making a personal appeal to Congress for more funding under the Homeland Security Act, to cover some of the cost of counter-terrorism efforts by the NYPD.

“I sincerely hope there will not be layoffs,” said Thomas Reppetto of the Citizens Crime Commission. “We laid off 5,000 police officers in 1975. That was a disaster for the city. It took about 15 years before the Police Department recovered from it.”

When told of Kelly's comments Wednesday, Patrolmen's Benevolent Association President Pat Lynch issued the following statement: "Laying off police officers as the city struggles to fight terrorism is not an option. The NYPD must be exempt from any additional cuts."