May 19, 2008

State Panel Grants Pay Hike to Police Department

Staff Reporter of the Sun

A state arbitration panel has issued a decision that will raise police starting salaries to more than $35,000 from $25,000. The award is retroactive to police officers hired since July 1, 2006.

Under the new contract, police officers will earn $35,881 throughout their first year. All police officers will have their salaries raised by 9.73%, the mayor's office said.

The decision was lauded by both Mayor Bloomberg and the president of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, Patrick Lynch.

Mr. Lynch praised a decision he said broke with the city's past pattern of bargaining, but denounced a loss of 10 vacation days for future hires.

"This decision sends a strong message to the City of New York that times have changed and old, out-dated, and ineffective traditions of pattern bargaining and lock-step parity no longer satisfy the modern needs of this city," Mr. Lynch said.

In a statement, the mayor praised the "givebacks" from the union, saying they would help "preserve the City's financial position going forward." The givebacks also allow the police department to reschedule police officers on more days without having to pay overtime.

The police commissioner, Raymond Kelly, has been calling for a raise in the starting salary to combat a recruiting crisis. The number of police officers has reached a nearly two-decade low this year of just over 35,000 as the department has had trouble filling its ranks to capacity.

In July 2007, the police department had planned to hire more than 2,700 officers, but only hired 1,131. In January, the plan was to hire more than 2,100, but only 1,217 were hired.

With the economic downturn, the department has now capped its capacity to reflect the difficulty it has had filling the police academy with recruits recently.

This year, the department had budgeted to hire just over 1,200 police officers this July. It plans to hire 1,400 in January 2009.