New York Daily News

April 23, 2002

L.I. Snags 54 Finest

Daily News Staff Writer

Long Island continued its tradition of draining cops from the city yesterday, counting 54 former city officers at a swearing-in ceremony for recruits.

Suffolk County Police Commissioner John Gallagher swears 110 into county police force in Brentwood yesterday.  

Slightly less than half of this year's 110 recruits in Suffolk County have served among the ranks of New York's Finest. Last year, 67 cops moved from the city to Suffolk; 61 made the move in 2000.

The reason lies in their wallets.

"The answer in one word is: salary," Suffolk Police Chief Phil Robilotto said. "We pay substantially higher than New York City."

New York City rookies make $31,000 per year, and the peak salary is $49,000. Suffolk cops are paid $45,980 while they're in the academy and make more than $80,000 annually after five years on the job.

"I feel sorry for New York City, but your loss is my gain," Robilotto said. "We take as many city guys as we can get. They're top shelf when they get here."

New York must raise its police salaries or face a continued depletion of its talent, said Patrick Lynch, president of the NYPD Patrolmen's Benevolent Association.

"We're losing all of this experience that we need now more than ever, especially in the wake of Sept. 11," he said. "The only thing that will keep our members in the New York City Police Department will be increasing their salary. It needs to be competitive."

72 Jump to PA

The New York force also was stung last month, when 72 officers left to join the Port Authority force for higher pay.

Lynch said 835 city officers switched to higher-paying jurisdictions "as far away as Las Vegas" last year.

"It was the biggest exodus of officers in the history of the department," he said.

Lynch noted that even James Lawrence, former chief of personnel in the city, has sought refuge on Long Island. Last month, Lawrence was named Nassau County police commissioner.

"What kind of a message does that send?" Lynch asked.