New York Daily News

November 16, 2007

Half of Nassau County's new recruits from NYPD


More than half of of the recruits in Nassau County's new police academy class are New York City cops who defected, police union and NYPD officials said Thursday.

Patrolmen's Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch said officers bolted from the NYPD because they can make a top salary of potentially 25% more as Nassau County cops.

"There seems to be a direct correlation between our salaries falling ... behind other nearby police departments and the ever-increasing numbers of fully trained and experienced New York City police officers quitting," Lynch said.

Deputy Police Commissioner Paul Browne acknowledged that 56 of the 99 cops in Nassau County's Nov. 2 academy class had worked for the NYPD.

But Browne said the NYPD's problem was not attrition but recruitment efforts that have been hampered by the department's paltry starting pay, which an arbitration panel imposed.

"Attrition of experienced officers is not the problem," Browne said. "The problem is recruiting and retaining new recruits at the lowered salary of $25,100."

Nassau County pays a starting salary of $34,000, nearly $9,000 more than the NYPD. After a year, a Nassau County cop's pay jumps to $64,865.

After graduation, NYPD officers are paid $32,700 a year. The salary tops out at $59,588 after five years. In Nassau County, cops can earn $91,737 after eight years.

The NYPD starting salary was imposed by an arbitration panel in 2005. Raising it has been the subject of a Daily News editorial campaign.

City Hall and the PBA agree that cops are paid too little. But talks are deadlocked, and the contract has been submitted to binding arbitration.

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly has said the paltry pay undermines the department's ability to recruit, calling it a "major issue for the city."

Thursday, the PBA released a statement saying 820 city cops have quit the NYPD during the first 10 months of this year - "enough to staff over five precinct houses."

Lynch said the NYPD loses money when experienced cops quit because the city pays $100,000 to recruit, investigate, screen and train each officer.

"That money would be better spent keeping fully trained and experienced officers patrolling the streets of New York City," the PBA statement said.

But Browne said that the 816 officers who left the NYPD through last month represented 2.2% of the uniformed force. He said they weren't all leaving for higher-paying jobs in law enforcement.

"Historically, NYPD attrition has ranged from about 2% to 3%, which is low for any organization," he said.

Although 232 people, or about a half of 1% of the force, left for other police departments, 584 left for other reasons, Brown said, including 196 for disciplinary reasons or poor performance.