New York Daily News

August 15, 2002

Union says NYPD out to trip rally


Police union officials accused NYPD brass yesterday of trying to sabotage today's planned cop and firefighter rally for raises in Times Square by nixing requests for time off.

"The NYPD is not allowing any police officers to use their own time to come out and exercise their constitutional rights," said Patrolmen's Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch. "It shouldn't happen."

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly acknowledged that last-minute requests for a day off were being denied. But he insisted it was because of the city's policing needs, not an effort to undermine the rally.

Scheduling problem

"We have to be prudent how many people we can give the day off to," Kelly said. "The concern was based on projected numbers ... we have to maintain adequate forces."

Despite the time-off tiff, police and fire union officials predicted thousands of cops and firefighters would gather at noon to demand big pay hikes.

Sources said they would be joined by actor Robert De Niro and Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.).

The event was hastily planned in response to reports that a panel of state arbitrators is about to award cops two 5% raises over two years, far less than the 23% the PBA was seeking.

Rookie cops make $31,000, and after five years the base pay is $49,000. Firefighters are on the same pay scale.

Hint of a plan

Mayor Bloomberg said he believes arbitrators will suggest the city can find money for raises by reducing the number of cops while increasing the number of days officers work.

"They're frustrated," Bloomberg said of cops. "They would like more. I'd like to pay them more. [But] we have a $5 billion deficit."

But the union is furious over reports that officers will be asked to give up 10 days off a year, though their daily shifts will be 20 minutes shorter.

"That would be an outrage to ask for 10 extra days from police officers who are already the most overworked and underpaid in the country," Lynch said.