New York Daily News

ebruary 14, 2002

Kelly: Cops OK With Budget Cuts

Personnel shifts & more civilians

Daily News Police Bureau

Cutting 1,600 cops through attrition will not hamper the NYPD's ability to fight crime, police officials and law enforcement experts agreed yesterday.

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly acknowledged that the department is taking a "significant cut" as a $4 billion city budget gap forces the first NYPD downsizing in a decade.

"It's not going to diminish our ability to keep crime down," Kelly told reporters in his office at Police Headquarters.

The challenge facing Kelly and his commanders will be to find a way to effectively shift uniformed cops and detectives to cover what is essentially the loss of one officer per shift in each precinct. Careful use of overtime is one possibility.

But sources also said the NYPD warrants and intelligence divisions are ripe targets for a shakeup. Cuts in precinct special operations units, which had been beefed up in the Giuliani administration, also are under consideration.

Before its budget woes, the city had projected a police force for the coming fiscal year of 40,710. Instead, Mayor Bloomberg has ordered that force topped off at 39,100, 1,600 fewer than planned.

To offset the expected retirement or resignation of 2,600 cops, officials said 1,000 will be hired for the next Police Academy class.

The NYPD also plans hire 800 civilian workers to free up cops working desk jobs. Kelly said he did not know how many officers were doing those jobs but said a survey is underway to identify them.

Even with the reduction, the NYPD is considerably larger today than it was in the early 1990s.

Former Police Commissioner William Bratton said no one should be alarmed by 1,600 fewer men and women in blue.

"The bad old days aren't coming back," he said. "The management team running the Police Department is an extraordinary group, and crime will continue to go down."

But Patrolmen's Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch took a pessimistic view of the cuts.

"The number of police officers you have on the street is the reason crime went down, and you can't tamper with that," Lynch said.

Meanwhile, the Fire Department belt-tightening includes eliminating 75 ambulance tours daily, transferring firefighters who drive chiefs and the shifting 30 fire marshals to firefighting duty.

"We are not losing any jobs," said department spokesman Frank Gribbon.

Uniformed Firefighters Association President Kevin Gallagher said his membership will try to help Bloomberg "in any way possible."

"But we feel cutting services sends the wrong message," he added.

With Michele McPhee