New York Daily News

January 15, 2003

Civil Service

As police retire, threat of layoffs may be eased

Talk about your mixed messages.

Just a couple of years ago, the NYPD was in the midst of a $10 million recruitment drive. Last week, Commissioner Raymond Kelly was telling anyone who would listen that layoffs could be on the horizon at the Police Department.

On Monday, department spokesman Michael O'Lunney said it was "way too early to talk about layoffs."

Of course it's too early. The 3% or $94 million in additional budget cuts called for by Mayor Bloomberg could be met in ways other than layoffs.

As Patrolmen's Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch noted in yesterday's Daily News, nearly 4,000 officers have left the department since 1999. PBA officials estimate an additional 2,000 or so members of the department are expected to retire by July.

"We are seeing the highest attrition rate in history," said City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Queens), chairman of the Public Safety committee.

Savings also can be generated through productivity gains reached through collective bargaining.

Unfortunately, you can't negotiate a new contract until you finish negotiating the old contract. The agreement reached in September and approved by the members did not include a resolution on how to dispense the additional 1.5% nonsalary benefit awarded by the Public Employees Relations Board.

Negotiators for the city want to see the money go into the pockets of the younger officers. The Patrolmen's Benevolent Association would like the money spread out to benefit senior officers.

While the two sides continue to meet, neither has shown any sign of moving from its position.

As far as recruitment is concerned, Vallone told us that $2 million was cut from the recruitment budget last year and more cuts can be expected.

The budgets may be down, but the NYPD and the Department of Citywide Administrative Services will continue to seek out candidates and offer tests.

According to officials at the department, more than 14,000 applicants filed to take the police officer exam Feb. 8. Come March 5, the filing period for a police exam scheduled for June will open.