New York Daily News

September 15, 2007



New York in danger

Brace yourselves, New Yorkers: 2007 could be the last year of dramatic decreases in crime after an astonishing 17 years of plummeting rates of murders, rapes, assaults and other thefts. Come December, the Police Department faces the very real possibility of scaling back one of its biggest crimefighting weapons.

Operation Impact, Commissioner Ray Kelly's strategy of swarming high-crime areas with freshly minted cops, has been an enormous success. Crime has plunged and stayed down because the NYPD has been deploying two-thirds of its rookies to impact zones.

But now the department is going begging for recruits. The Police Academy is turning out barely enough graduates to replace cops who retire or quit, let alone flood high-crime communities. There is one person to blame: Patrolmen's Benevolent Association President Pat Lynch.

Thanks to Lynch, the cops have gone without raises for years and the starting salary is just $25,100 for the six months recruits are in the academy. This near-poverty wage is the single biggest reason enlistments have fallen off the table.

The NYPD had planned to beef up by 2,400 cops when the present academy class graduates in December. It won't come close. The class started with 1,131 members, and 14% have dropped out. There will be more attrition, leaving the force with a minimum of 800 new officers, or so Kelly prays.

And that will be crunch time because the NYPD will be on the edge of sacrificing key parts of its crimefighting and anti-terror missions. Lynch is ready to accept that result — perhaps even to welcome it — as a way to apply pressure to City Hall. He's playing with public safety, potentially with lives.

His tactics are all the more irresponsible because his strategy is counterproductive and doomed. Every other police union - in fact, virtually every other municipal union - has negotiated a favorable deal with the Bloomberg administration, with some pacts extending far into the future.

But Lynch wants more, and he has sold his members the fantasy that they will get more through arbitration. That's not going to happen. Meanwhile, starting pay is locked in at $25,100, cops are going without 25% raises that are available right now without givebacks, and New Yorkers are threatened with rising crime.

All thanks to Lynch.