New York Daily News

January 11, 2001

PBA Is Rallying Today For Fair Treatment...

By PATRICK J. LYNCH

) n Sept. 16, 1992, 10,000 New York City police officers staged a highly visible demonstration outside City Hall to let the city and its mayor, David Dinkins, know what they were thinking about an issue close to their hearts.

That was then; this is now.

Today, the New York City Patrolmen's Benevolent Association has scheduled another demonstration by its 27,000 members — at 11 a.m. in City Hall Park — to let the city and its mayor, Rudy Giuliani, know what they're thinking about another issue close to their hearts. Although a PBA solidarity rally in Battery Park in June attracted some 8,000 cops and their families, this will be the first City Hall rally since the memorable 1992 event.

There are many important differences.

In 1992, Giuliani was a featured speaker for the PBA. In 2001, Mayor Giuliani is the object of the PBA's displeasure. Back then, the PBA's complaint was philosophical — the nature of the Civilian Complaint Review Board. Today, the bread-and-butter matter of wages prompts the demonstration — in many ways, a much more resonant issue with rank-and-file cops.

And that's because of other dramatic changes since the early '90s. In that era, violent crime was at all-time highs. Today, thanks to the fine work done by our officers, it's at modern-day lows. In the Dinkins era, New York City cops with five years' experience earned $5,000 more a year than Chicago cops. Today, they earn $4,000 less. They earned $4,000 more than New York State troopers and now earn $2,000 less. They earned $2,000 more than Yonkers cops, now $8,000 less.

Nassau cops used to make $6,000 and Suffolk cops $7,000 more. Now they make a whopping $24,000 more.

Further differences between 1992 and now: Back then, the city was mired in recession. Today, it enjoys billions in surplus, thanks again, in part, to our cops. However, our cops have not profited from this bounty.

And that leads to the final, perhaps most telling, difference:

In the early '90s, it was not unusual for 50,000 people to apply to take each New York City police officer test. Today, the city is lucky if it attracts 12,000 applicants. Twenty-five percent of the seats were empty in the last Police Academy class. And, as the Daily News reported recently, experienced cops are retiring in record numbers. There comes a time when a job and its compensation are no longer compatible. We appear to have reached that time.

In its stalled contract negotiations with the city, the PBA is not asking for immediate parity with officers in Nassau and Suffolk, who get a lot more (salaries they richly deserve, by the way). Instead, the union is proposing that its cops be brought up to the level of a neighboring big city's officers, those of Newark.

In the early '90s, Newark cops earned 5% less than New York's. Today, they earn 23% more. That has to change.

Lynch is president of the New York City Patrolmen's Benevolent Association.