New York Post
May 20, 2008

EDITORIAL:

MIKE'S COP CHOP

State arbitrators yesterday pushed up salaries for rookie cops by a cool $10,000 — which should go a long way to help replenish the NYPD's dwindling ranks.

But Mayor Mike had already swiped funding for 1,000 new hires — as Police Commissioner Ray Kelly admitted before the City Council yesterday. So we have to ask:

Is there anyone home at City Hall?

Municipal government is about nothing if not public safety — and cop-staffing levels are at a new low.

Yesterday's ruling by the Public Employment Relations Board brings starting pay for rookies from a ludicrous $25,100 to $35,800. That's good — as far as it goes.

But not only had City Hall cut police jobs, it had no plans to restore the slots until 2011 — though it says it will reassess the issue over time.

Whatever that means.

Yes, the city budget is tight.

But if City Hall can't afford enough cops to maintain public safety, it might as well not fund anything.

You've got to wonder: Has Bloomberg forgotten the lessons of the'70s and '80s?

Chip away at crime-fighting and — surprise! — crime soars.

Following the city's fiscal crisis in the '70s, NYPD staffing fell short. And, lo and behold, the murder rate shot up to more than 2,200 a year by the early '90s.

The city then got serious about crime — and the NYPD headcount rose to a high of some 41,000 in 2001.

Last year, murders dropped to a record low of 497. But now the force is down once again. At 35,700, it's the lowest it's been since the Dinkins era. Should New Yorkers expect the murder rate to climb soon?

Nor do such cuts, by the way, necessarily produce long-term savings. Renewed crime will scare away residents, tourists, businesses — and all the taxes they account for.

We understand that money is tight. Just as we understand that while the new starting rate for rookies will help recruiting, it's no panacea.

Recruiting will still be hard.

So while Bloomberg & Co. begin their promised reassessment of NYPD funding and manpower issues, they must understand that chopping 1,000 cops from the authorized headcount is to give up the fight before it even begins.

They need to reverse course — now.