New York 1 News

April 4, 2003

Police    

NYPD To Reduce Police Force Through Retirements, Not Layoffs

The NYPD will soon have its smallest number of officers in a decade, but department officials said Thursday the reduction in the size of the police force will come through attrition instead of layoffs.

NY1's Police Reporter Andrew Siff explains.

The NYPD may not see any new police recruits until at least July of 2004.

Officials told NY1 that the city may postpone hiring 700 police officers this summer and instead allow the ranks to shrink to below 33,000 next year. That's a nearly 8,000 officer drop from the summer of 2001 when the size of the NYPD peaked at 40,800.

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly says there's a reason the number of officers will be at a 10-year low: these days, the NYPD only graduates one new class per year instead of the traditional two.

“We attrite officers literally every day,” Kelly said Thursday. “You hire at only one time during the year, and for the rest of that year your headcount decreases."

Kelly said that a huge number of retirements – an anticipated 4,000 this fiscal year – will allow the NYPD to meet the mayor's budget orders and slash $300 million from the budget without layoff officers, but only "with great difficulty.”

Kelly said the mayor has pledged not to lay off any uniformed officers. However, he said the department may cancel its next scheduled graduating class.

Patrolmen's Benevolent Association President Pat Lynch said about 3,600 officers on the street have already left in the last couple of years, some of them leaving the city for higher paying jobs at suburban departments and at the Port Authority.

Lynch said officers can't keep working overtime on counter-terrorism posts and keeping conventional crime down if the force keeps shrinking.

"We are not going to have enough police officers to man the radio cars, the precincts, and to man those security posts,” Lynch said.

But Kelly stresses crime has continued to drop.

Meanwhile, a police watchdog group, the Citizens Crime Commission, said, much like in the 1980s, a commuter tax could help avoid cuts to the police force

"Now we are taking a leaf out of that book and recommending that the old commuter tax be restored that money be dedicated to public safety and police, fire and probably some emergency health programs,” said Thomas Reppetto of the Citizens Crime Commission.

Albany has balked at the proposed commuter tax. But City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. said Albany shouldn’t turn its back.

"We need our money from Albany to fund our police,” Vallone said. “It’s imperative that we get it."

Instead, what the city is getting is a smaller police force, at a size New Yorkers haven't seen since crime was high.

--Andrew Siff