The New York Times

May 19, 2006

City Offers $10,000 Raise for Police Recruits


The Bloomberg administration proposed a raise of roughly $10,000 for new police recruits at a bargaining session with the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association yesterday, according to the terms of an offer provided by administration officials.

Under the offer, new academy cadets would be paid at an annual rate of $36,123 for the first six months, up from $25,100, and then at a rate of $39,735, up from $32,700. The base salary would tick up each year until hitting $63,309 after five and a half years, up from $59,588.

The city has been sharply criticized for the relatively low starting pay for police officers, which union officials maintain is below the levels in surrounding areas and even in much smaller cities.

To compensate for the higher pay, the new officers would receive a less generous package in other areas than those already on the force, including fewer vacation days and paid holidays and less money toward their retirement until they have served five and a half years.

Officers already on the force who have reached that mark would receive two retroactive raises totaling about 6 percent, which is in line with the raises negotiated by the city with the other uniformed unions, officials said. The contract would cover the period from Aug. 1, 2004, through July 31, 2006, and the pay scale for new recruits would affect those starting July 1.

The Patrolmen's Benevolent Association did not reject the offer immediately but said it was inadequate considering the risks to officers' lives and too low to solve the department's recruiting problems.

"Once again the city expects police officers to pay for their own raises while failing to close the gap at all levels of salary between New York City police and surrounding communities, from entry level to critical top pay," said Patrick J. Lynch, the union president. "This offer fails to consider the dangers that we face above and beyond virtually any other municipal employee."

Negotiations between the city and the police officers' union have been particularly bitter over the last few cycles, going to arbitration for two contracts in a row. In the last settlement, reached in June 2005, officers received a raise of more than 10 percent over two years, higher than many other municipal unions and more than the Bloomberg administration wanted to grant.

But among the most controversial elements was a decision to lower starting salaries for recruits to $25,100 for the first six months while they train at the police academy. Union officials said that amount put its officers on food stamps, a notion that an administration official dismissed yesterday as false.

"With the P.B.A. basically making up horror stories about cops being forced to go on food stamps, then they'd be hard pressed to explain why they would pass up a $10,000 raise for starting officers," said a city official who was granted anonymity to discuss a continuing negotiation. "This is a solution that raises the salary of new police officer recruits, and also gives current police officers a raise consistent with what other uniformed services have had."

Union officials saw it differently. "It does nothing to address the critical recruitment and retention problem caused by dramatically higher police salaries in other departments," Mr. Lynch said. "Prospective recruits won't be fooled and veteran cops won't be satisfied."