New York Daily News

PBA sees peril in recruiting shortfall

Says Large Queens Precinct Sometimes Covered By Only 2 or 3 Patrol Cars


June 5, 2007—The police recruiting crisis is shortchanging precincts around the city — from Bayside to Harlem, union leaders charged yesterday.

The lack of cops is so dire that at times only two or three police cars are out patrolling the sprawling 111th Precinct in Queens, said Patrick Lynch, head of the Patrolman's Benevolent Association, who lives in the Bayside neighborhood.

"This is the type of staffing shortage that is seen citywide and, if allowed to persist, will create a danger to city residents and to New York City police officers," Lynch told members of the City Council Public Safety Committee at a hearing.

Lynch said the 28th Precinct in central Harlem has seen a drop in staffing from 252 to 188 officers since 2000.

Police Department officials agree they are having trouble recruiting new officers and said most of the blame sits with the $25,100 starting salary.

"We have a very low entry-level salary, which makes it extremely difficult to hire the number of people in the numbers that we have to hire," said Rafael Pineiro, chief of personnel.

City Council member Peter Vallone, chairman of the committee, said he was worried that there are only about 35,900 police officers in the department.

"We're nearing the level of police officers we had when crime was running rampant in our streets," said Vallone (D-Queens). "I see this as an impending crisis."

But police officials said it was "misleading" to say that precincts were so short-staffed only two patrol cars are out at one time.

"Does that happen on occasion? I can't say it doesn't," Deputy Chief John Gerrish told Council members. But "most day tours have a lot of police officers, whether they are in a patrol car or a special school car or a special youth officer or on foot patrol."

On Bell Blvd. in Bayside, just a few blocks from the 111th Precinct stationhouse, some residents said they have noticed a difference.

"They used to patrol here quite often, but now it's very rare," said Carolyn McLauglin, 39.

"They are probably diverting patrols from here because it's a low-crime area," said Michael Landskroner, 55. "People who pay the most property taxes get the least patrols."

In Harlem, Yolanda Perry said police presence was scarce when her son was attacked a few years ago.

"When you really need [a police officer], you can't find one," said Perry, 56, as she passed the Apollo Theater.

With Andrew Hawkins and Karl Stampfl