New York Post
August 11, 2000


NYPD BLUES FOR RAY'S BRO

By ROCCO PARASCANDOLA and MURRAY WEISS

The NYPD trotted out comedian Ray Romano and his cop brother yesterday to tout a new recruitment drive - but the feel-good promotion backfired when the sarge said he's at the "breaking point" and will quit.

Police brass immediately tried to put a positive spin on the remarks, with spokeswoman Marilyn Mode saying Sgt. Rich Romano really meant to say "he wanted to try something new."

But the veteran cop's remarks seemed as unambiguous as a pie in the face.

"I have 20 years of service in and ... monetarily it doesn't really pay now, with the incentive you get to retire," said Romano, who works in the Manhattan Gang Unit.

"I've done 20 years on the streets and every man has his point where he says it's his breaking point.

"He just knows when to stop."

The sergeant and his outgoing famous sibling, star of the smash sitcom "Everybody Loves Raymond," were at Police Headquarters to announce a new $10 million campaign. He made his surprise remarks in response to a question at the press conference.

Last year's recruiting campaign was a success, Police Commissioner Howard Safir said, with the department attracting a record number of city residents and minorities. Critics say the approximately 8,000 recruits who showed up last year was the lowest total in recent memory.

The new campaign comes at a time when the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association has spent $100,000 for a series of graphic ads - some showing a cop bleeding from a gunshot - that discourage people from becoming cops because of low pay and constant criticism.

PBA President Pat Lynch said Sgt. Romano's comments reflect the feeling among many cops.

"We have been pointing out the recruitment problem, but more importantly the retention problem," Lynch said.

"The salary structure does not make it beneficial for the best and brightest to stay on the job. We are losing our seasoned police officers because they cannot put food on their tables.

"I think [Sgt. Romano] spoke what's in his heart and spoke the truth."

Bernie Pound, who heads the Sergeant's Benevolent Association, said the department would have been better served using the $20 million from the two ad campaigns to pay cops more.

In the Romano brothers' ad, which appeared yesterday in some newspapers, including The Post, the words "He has a courage I'll never have" runs across the top.

The banner best describes, in his own words, the respect Ray Romano has for his brother and police, the Queens-born comic says.

"As an adult I grew to admire him and what he did for a living," he says. "He puts his life on the line and I tell jokes about diapers."