New York Daily News

April 4, 2008 

Seattle Police Department scheming to steal cops from the shrinking NYPD

BY MICHAEL WHITE
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER

Billboard for the Seattle Police went up on the West Side Highway a few days ago.The Seattle Police Department is scheming to steal cops from the shrinking NYPD - paying for a huge billboard along the West Side Highway and papering bus shelters with recruiting ads.

The pitch is simple: Seattle pays its new hires nearly twice as much as the NYPD.

And if that's not enough, they'll throw in another $5,000 to cover moving expenses.

"We get people who go, 'Whoa! It's going to take me a long time [in the NYPD] to get to ... even your beginning salary,'" Seattle police recruiter Monique Avery told the Daily News. "And our cost of living is a lot less."

Comparison chart between Seattle and New YorkNYPD cops and other New Yorkers who want to protect and serve the Emerald City don't even have to leave here to take the Seattle Police Department exam.

The written test is being offered April 19 at New York University. Of the 200 people who have signed up, about 20 are city cops, Avery said.

Seattle pays its police recruits $47,334 a year and the annual salary rises to a maximum base pay of $67,045 in just six years.

NYPD recruits get a paltry $25,100 annual salary while they are in the academy. Their pay jumps to $32,800 after graduation and tops out at $59,588 after seven years.

Considering it costs about 20% more to live in New York City than Seattle, NYPD officers would have to earn about $80,000 to maintain the same standard of living as in Seattle.

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly has blamed the department's starting salary for hurting recruitment. The pay scale was imposed by an arbitration panel in 2005 after the city and police union couldn't reach a deal. Kelly also must cut the police force by 1,000 cops because of looming budget shortfalls - resulting in the smallest department in 16 years.

"There's a long history of other departments hoping to recruit the Finest - and the Finest are at the NYPD," Deputy Police Commissioner Paul Browne said. Browne said the NYPD's "low starting salary remains a problem, no question about it."

Seattle officials made a smaller attempt to recruit in New York City last year - and their results were so good that they launched this year's larger campaign, Avery said.

The billboard along the West Side Highway near 54th St. was unveiled a few days ago, Avery said. It shows a Seattle police officer's shoulder patch and department crest.

"A Job Like No Other" the billboard declares in big, bold letters above the address for the department's recruiting Web site, Seattlepolicejobs.com.

"It does sound like a dream," said an NYPD cop who graduated from the Police Academy in January. "I would definitely take the test if I saw that sign."

"I love being a city cop and pretty much everyone I know does too," said the cop, who asked not to be identified. "The only problem is everyone works a second or third job."

Avery insisted the billboard and other advertisements are not aimed only at NYPD cops.

"We are not coming to New York to specifically target NYPD officers. I pray that they get a huge raise," she said. "They are definitely welcome to apply, but we are encouraging everyone who is interested to apply."

The city's largest police union said the only way the NYPD can fend off recruiters from other departments is to raise the city's top pay.

"Our veteran officers don't have to travel across country for higher top pay because virtually every other police department in the metropolitan area offers a top pay of $20,000 to $40,000 more than the NYPD," said Patrolmen's Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch.

"Can anyone blame them for leaving?"

agendar@nydailynews.com

With Eric Barrow and Alison Gendar