New York Daily News

April 5, 2008 

Seattle not shy about luring NYPD cops

BY ALISON GENDAR and ETHAN ROUEN
DAILY NEWS POLICE BUREAU

Seattle police officials are not apologizing for attempting to steal cops from the NYPD by offering the city's Finest more money and a salary bonus to move.

"Police officers are free agents now," Sgt. Richard O'Neill, the head of the Seattle Police Officers Guild, told the Daily News. "Take a page from A-Rod.

"It's no secret that agencies across the nation are recruiting," O'Neill added. "Any time you can get an experienced officer, that's a big savings."

In a front-page exclusive, The News revealed Friday that the Seattle Police Department is paying for a huge billboard along the West Side Highway and papering bus shelters with recruiting ads.

Seattle is offering police recruits a $5,000 bonus to help cover moving expenses - and cops interested in applying don't even have to leave New York to take Seattle's written police exam.

The test is being offered April 19 at New York University. Of the 223 people who have signed up, about 20 are city cops, Seattle police said.

Seattle pays its recruits $47,334 a year, and the annual salary rises to a maximum pay of $67,045 after 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.

The pay disparity is expected to get even larger, O'Neill said.

Seattle's officers are mere weeks away from signing a new contract that "will make us the highest paid" in Washington State, O'Neill said.

The recruiting billboard on the West Side Highway near 54th St. cost Seattle just $7,500. Unveiled a few days ago, it declares "A Job Like No Other" above the address for the department's recruiting Web site.

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly has blamed the NYPD'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.

Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, said Seattle isn't alone in coveting NYPD cops.

"The NYPD spends $100,000 on every cop it recruits," Lynch said. "Other departments swoop in, and they benefit from that experience - as well as [from] a police officer whose morale has increased tenfold, who can focus on policing and not racing to his second or third job."

agendar@nydailynews.com