New York Daily News

July 13, 2005

Kelly now raps lower start cop pay

BY TONY SCLAFANI and LISA L. COLANGELO DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITERS

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly criticized the new starting salary for rookie cops yesterday - saying the paltry $25,100 pay creates "a major recruiting challenge" and he would like to see the wage boosted.

Hours later, Mayor Bloomberg accused police union leaders of "selling their unborn" to fund higher raises for cops already on the job - triggering a new war of words over who's to blame for the low beginning wage.

"It was basically a plan...put forth by the union to not have to come up with any savings for the existing members of the union," Bloomberg said.

"It's called 'selling the unborn,'" he added. "I'm not sure it's an intelligent strategy."

Bloomberg's account of how an arbitration panel determined the pay scale enraged the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association.

"It was the city's witnesses that swore under oath there was no recruitment problem, and it was the city's plan to reduce the starting pay," said PBA President Patrick Lynch. "It will cause a worsening of the recruiting problem, and they will have to live with it."

Last month, city cops were awarded raises of 10.25% over two years for a contract covering 2002 to 2004. But the arbitration panel also slashed starting pay from about $35,000 to $25,100.

NYPD officials had previously downplayed any impact that the starting pay would have on recruitment, saying incoming cops were more diverse and better educated than ever.

But that stance shifted dramatically yesterday after Kelly swore in almost 2,000 new recruits. "I think it presents a major recruiting challenge to the department," Kelly said. "No question about that."

He said he would like to see starting salaries raised again, but sees "no relief in the immediate future."