New York Daily News

January 20, 2007

"Don't hit me over cop pay"

BY MICHAEL SAUL DAILY NEWS CITY HALL BUREAU CHIEF

Despite an enormous budget surplus and plans to slash taxes by $1 billion, Mayor Bloomberg yesterday defended the hard-line stance his administration has taken with city cops in contract negotiations.

When asked about Daily News columnist Michael Daly's Thursday column imploring Bloomberg to award cops higher pay now that city coffers are flush with cash, Bloomberg replied, "I just think he's wrong on this one.

"The truth of the matter is the low starting salaries for the police officers was the choice of the police union," Bloomberg said on his weekly WABC radio show, referring to the $25,100 annual pay that rookies now get.

Bloomberg conceded the starting salary has made it harder for the city to attract new recruits. But he said the total compensation - base salary, overtime and benefits - is still appealing.

"The total package that you get, however, is attractive," he insisted. "This is a great job."

In July, the city formally notified the state of an impasse in contract talks with the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association - the first time the Bloomberg administration has ever thrown up its hands in a labor dispute.

The union and the administration have been at loggerheads ever since. The union's last pact expired in summer 2004.

"All this mayor has to do to solve the critical recruitment and retention problem that the NYPD has been facing for the past decade is to put a package on the table that would bring [city] police officers up to a salary level comparable with other local departments," PBA President Patrick Lynch said yesterday.

"Absent the wisdom and leadership to do that," Lynch said the PBA will be forced to convince a state arbitrator to award city cops the pay he believes they're due.

According to the PBA, the maximum salary for an NYPD officer is $59,588, which the union says is $22,478 below the average pay of cops in nearby departments.

Bloomberg said he is hopeful the next police contract will address the city's low starting pay and provide "better compensation at the front end."

But the mayor insisted the salary statistics the union uses are misleading because they don't include benefits.

"Whatever salary you're getting quoted, just double it," he said. "That's the real benefit you're getting."

The News detailed in an exclusive report last Sunday how suburban departments near the city have been raiding the NYPD to fill their own ranks, luring away dozens of veteran cops with the promise of better pay.

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly also has said that the city's low starting pay crippled its attempt to boost the ranks of the department by 800 cops over the past year.

Kelly refused yesterday to say whether he thinks cops should get a raise funded by the budget surplus. "The mayor's in charge of the budget," Kelly said.

When asked a second time, Kelly said, "I'm not going to get involved in the source of funding."

With Alison Gendar

POLICE PAY, BY THE NUMBERS

Much has been made about the low starting salary for NYPD cops. But even at the high end, the city's officers suffer. Here's how the maximum base pay for city cops compares with neighboring police departments:

  • NYPD .... $59,588
  • Suffolk Co. .... $94,417
  • Nassau Co. .... $92,432
  • Port Authority .... $80,720
  • Westchester Co. .... $80,366
  • New York state troopers .... $75,678
  • MTA ....$68,781
  • Average (excluding NYPD) .... $82,066

Source: Patrolmen's Benevolent Association

Originally published on January 20, 2007