New York Daily News

LAPD rookies get double N.Y. pay West Coast woos cops with sun, surf and fat salaries

BY MICHELLE CARUSO and ALISON GENDAR DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITERS

January 9, 2007—New York cops fed up with their skimpy starting pay should move to Los Angeles, where they'll get beaches, bikinis - and $52,638 a year, says one West Coast lawmaker.

"We've got Malibu and sunshine," said Los Angeles City Councilman Dennis Zine, a 38-year LAPD veteran, who said he was stunned to hear New York cops now start at $25,100.

L.A. not only pays its rookies well, it's also considering handing out a $5,000 signing bonus, because the city is still having trouble wooing recruits.

"What person is going to work for [about] $26,000 a year?" Zine said. "It's poverty level. That leads to corruption."

New York's plans to put 800 extra cops on the streets have been stymied by the paltry starting salary, Mayor Bloomberg conceded yesterday after the Daily News revealed the problem.

"Nobody questions the fact that if we could pay more at the starting end, you would have more people interested in one of the great jobs in law enforcement and, arguably, one of the great jobs in the country," the mayor said.

Bloomberg had hoped to hire 800 new cops by tomorrow, but the department is likely several hundred bodies short of its target of 37,838, police said.

The NYPD ended last year with a total head count of 35,750.

A class of rookies starting this week will close the gap somewhat, but the city will fall far short of its goal.

An arbitration panel set the lower salary in 2005 - but Bloomberg put the blame on the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association for forcing the pay cut by refusing to agree to productivity changes that would fund raises for older cops.

PBA President Patrick Lynch countered that the city has had a recruiting crisis ever since it lost pace with suburban salaries. The drop in rookie pay just allowed the city to finally own up to the crunch, he said.

"The problem all along has been other departments paying much more," Lynch said.

Even on the higher end of the pay scale, New York is losing to other departments: Suffolk County's maximum base pay hit $94,417 last November - while the NYPD's is $59,588.

While City Hall and the PBA keep battling in arbitration, the NYPD is handing out more overtime money to try to fight crime.

A loosening of overtime restrictions last week led to an increase of 1,500 arrests across the city, compared with the same time last year. The number of arrests for major crimes rose to 842, compared with 742 for the corresponding period in 2006.