New York Daily News

June 29, 2005

2005 duties, 1985 pay for NYPD's next rookies

BY LISA L. COLANGELO and ALISON GENDAR
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITERS

Rookie cops will earn a paltry $25,100 a year under a new contract approved by a state arbitration panel - the lowest starting salary for NYPD officers in at least 20 years.

The drastic pay cut is designed to help fund a 10.25% raise over two years for officers already on the payroll. But critics fear it will harm the NYPD's ability to recruit new cops.

"How can the city justify having young police officers strap on a gun belt and a bulletproof vest for $25,000 a year?" a nine-year NYPD veteran asked yesterday. "This is absolutely ridiculous."

The previous starting pay for NYPD rookies was about $36,000 plus an annual uniform allowance, holiday pay and health insurance.

Under the new pact, recruits will earn $25,100 a year while they are in the Police Academy - more than $7,000 less than rookies in Suffolk County and the MTA, Port Authority and state police departments.

Despite the disparity, the chairman of the arbitration panel defended the new rookie salary. "They have not yet experienced the dangers, the stress and the responsibilities of incumbent police officers," Chairman Eric Schmertz wrote.

Mayor Bloomberg, who had wanted to grant cops a raise of no more than 5% over three years, said last night the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association "chose" to lower rookie salaries in exchange for higher pay for veterans.

He added that the city had set aside $800 million to cover the PBA's new contract and similar deals that may now be struck with city firefighters and correction officers.

But like the cops, Bloomberg added, other unions will have to submit to the same salary reductions for new hires - or find equivalent savings.

Asked how the city would hire 3,000 cops a year with lower pay, the mayor responded, "We are going to find out. But whether we can or we can't, that is the way the arbitrator ruled."

But NYPD officials dismissed concerns about recruitment.

Deputy Police Commissioner Paul Browne noted that more than 85,481 candidates have applied for fewer than 10,000 openings since 2002.

The new NYPD salary rises to $34,000 after 18 months and reaches $38,000 after 2-1/2 years.

The base pay tops out at $59,588 after 51/2 years. All cops will have to give up one personal day, and accept as many as 15 scheduling changes to their tours, up from 10. The average cop also will get $13,700 in back pay.

PBA President Patrick Lynch said the arbitration decision "puts us in the right direction." But he argued the rookie pay "is not in the long-term interest of the city."

Cash crunch

City cops won a significant pay raise, but their new salaries still trail many other major police departments around the nation:

Maximum base salary

Nassau $93,079 Suffolk $84,545 San Jose, Calif. $80,255 San Francisco $76,055 Port Authority $75,719 Los Angeles $71,090 Yonkers $68,579 Chicago $64,962 NYPD $59,588

Rookie salary

Suffolk $49,634 N.Y. State Police $48,907 MTA Police $33,000 Port Authority $32,500 NYPD $25,100 Nassau $23,000

Source: New York State Public Employment Relations Board