New York Post
January 11, 2003



The possibility of 1,500 layoffs at the NYPD would vanish if the police union agrees to "productivity enhancements," Mayor Bloomberg said yesterday.

"If we can get, for example, in the case of police, the existing staff to do more with less, then we won't need layoffs," Bloomberg said on his weekly WABC radio show.

"If we can't find ways or everyone can't agree on ways to do that, it'll probably come down to that," the mayor added.

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly first raised the possibility of layoffs Wednesday, saying he had few options in the face of City Hall's demand for another 3 percent budget reduction.

Other agencies - except for education and the other uniformed services - are grappling with additional 6 percent cuts for fiscal 2004, which starts July 1.

Kelly and the other city agency heads will present their budget plans to Bloomberg on Monday.

Kelly said "it would be difficult" for him not to chop heads if City Hall sticks the NYPD for another $94 million in savings, since 95 percent of its $3.4 billion budget goes to salaries.

Ed Skyler, the mayor's press secretary, said all municipal unions are being asked to pitch in to avert layoffs, not just cops.

"That applies to everybody," Skyler said.

To help balance his 2004 budget, Bloomberg is assuming $600 million in savings from union concessions that have yet to be achieved.

"The $600 million we've asked for, that's already been spent," Bloomberg noted on his radio show.

The Patrolmen's Benevolent Association described cop layoffs - which would be the first since 1975 - as a recipe for disaster.

"It would be a devastating blow to the safety of New York City," warned PBA spokesman Al O'Leary.

Police manpower is already going to drop from 37,800 to 37,210 by June 30 because of previous budget cuts. The force reached its high point of 40,800 in March 2000.

One union official, speaking anonymously, said it's hard to believe Bloomberg would pink-slip police before other city workers.

"I've got to assume he's rattling the PBA's cage," said the official.

There are 2,100 trainees scheduled to graduate the Police Academy at the end of the month. Under the PBA's contract, the most recent hires would have to be the first on the layoff list.

Two former police officers on the City Council, Hiram Monserrate (D-Queens) and James Davis (D-Brooklyn), have called a press conference for tomorrow to denounce the possible layoffs.