New York Daily News

June 8, 2005

Finest turn Bravest as city talks lag

By Lisa Colangelo

Today at Brooklyn College, 231 probationary firefighters will graduate and join the ranks of New York City's Bravest.

And you can bet that tucked in those numbers are more than a handful of former members of New York's Finest.

More than 360 city police officers have left the force to join the FDNY since Jan 2002.

In fact, five police officers have left the City Hall detail for the FDNY in less than two years.

Maybe it's the hours - it's easier to hold down a second job with a firefighter's schedule. Or maybe these officers took tests for the Police and Fire departments and their FDNY numbers were finally up.

Either way, it's one more drain on the city's Police Department, which has been aggressively recruiting to fill its ranks.

"It's about salary. New York City police officers aren't getting paid like professional police officers," said Patrolmen's Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch. "The main objective of any working person is to get food on the table. It's foolish of the city not to realize there's a crisis."

So even though the Public Employment Relations Board arbitrator has said a decision on the PBA contract will come down sometime this month, the union has taken out full-page ads to drum up public support for their cause.

"We wanted to remind the public that New York City police officers are still without a contract," Lynch said.

Lynch points to a sweet deal the New York State troopers recently received that includes extra pay for anti-terror duties.

A mayoral spokesman said the PBA had only itself to blame for the delay in reaching an agreement.

"By sitting down at the table and negotiating, half the city's labor force has received significant salary increases," said the spokesman, Jordan Barowitz.

"The PBA has turned their back on this process and insisted on binding arbitration."