New York Post
March 27, 2006

PAY CUT HITS POLICE RECRUITING

By MARK BULLIET and HASANI GITTENS

The city wants to hire 800 rookie cops - but attracting applicants won't be easy.

That's because the salary for recruits has been slashed from a mere $36,000 a year to an even more stingy $25,100.

NYPD putting 1,200 more cops on street.    
BEATRICE CALDERON  

The pay rises to nearly $60,000 after 51/2 years - but it still doesn't come close to salaries in the suburbs and at other law-enforcement agencies.

Suffolk County and the Port Authority, for example, pay their beginners some $7,000 more.

The Post interviewed about a dozen students at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

We asked if they'll apply to suburban departments, where the pay is higher and the streets are safer - or if they're considering careers that could be more rewarding, all ways but financially, in New York City.

'MONEY ISN'T EVERYTHING'

If you want to be a cop, the place to be is New York City, says Beatrice Calderon.

"The NYPD is real police work. Nassau and Suffolk aren't," the 21-year-old senior said.

"More happens in the city than happens elsewhere," she explained. "[The money] is bull, but I'm not becoming a cop for the money."

Calderon said she had already taken the written exam and was just waiting for the department's physical and psychological testing.

"If I was becoming a cop for the money, I'd go someplace like Connecticut, where it's 50 grand to start," the Queens resident said. "Money isn't everything. It's about doing something you love."

But she confessed to having an other reason for wanting to be one of New York's Finest. In the future, she said, she may want to join a federal law-enforcement agency - and she figures a résumé highlighted by years of police work here will be a lot more impressive.

Several of her classmates agree.

Joe White insists he has no fear of working in Dodge City. In fact, he was born in Dodge City - in Kansas, that is.

The way White sees it, New York is "the greatest city in the world with the greatest police force in the world."

White, who won't know if he's been accepted into the Police Academy until he has established residence in the five boroughs or their surrounding counties, admits to having some reservations - also about the salary.

"I'm a little nervous," he said, "because when I was living in Kansas, I made more than that and I barely got by."

And, he said, the only reason he can afford to consider a career with the NYPD is that he's not supporting a family.

"I'm going by myself," he said. "I would be mortified if I had to take care of other people. I wouldn't be able to do it."

'IT'S KEEPING ME AWAY'

Ed Hanson wanted to be a cop "forever."

Police work, he said, "has always appealed to me. It's always something I wanted to do."

After 9/11, he focused his dream on a career in the NYPD. The terror attack "made me want it even more," he said.

The 21-year-old junior from Seaford, L.I., took the test two years ago, and was planning to become one of New York's Finest as soon as he got his degree.

But then he heard about the new pay scale.

"I'm on the list for the city. I got called, but the whole thing with the pay - it's keeping me away," said Hanson.

Now, he's applied to the Suffolk County Police Department.

And if that falls through, he'll try for the Nassau PD. "It [the money] kind of influenced me in a bad way," said Hanson.

"It seems like it could be a more dangerous job in the city. I don't think the pay fits the details of the job."

Theresa Kalber, a 22-year-old junior from Rockland County, has similar feelings. "They pay a lot better upstate," she said. "I'm not really doing it for the pay, but ... it is important when you're risking your life."

Kalber feels it's "safer" in Rockland.

"I don't know what they [NYPD] expect to get for that price," she said.

"I've got nothing against the city. I'm just looking at the whole picture. Are you going to take less money over more money?"

Danny Levine, a 20-year-old junior from Bellport, L.I., is also bound for the suburbs - and his big issues are also money and safety. Levine is planning to apply to the Suffolk County PD. Why?

"To be honest with you, money," he said. "Suffolk pays a lot."

Besides, he said, "New York is too far - it's too much of a hassle. There's more risk."