Upd. March 23, 2016 | 5:06pm
By Patrick J. Lynch
|The scene in Brooklyn where an alleged drunk driver crashed into a police car, injuring two officers.|
New York City police officers know what we signed up for. We know that our job is to put our lives on the line to keep our city safe, and to deliver the same public-safety services to each and every New Yorker, each and every day.
We do that job with pride, and all we ask in return is to be treated like professionals: paid fairly, with our backs covered in our mission and with the comfort that if we’re injured in the line of duty, we’ll be supported for our sacrifice.
Unfortunately, police officers aren’t seeing that support, and the result could seriously damage the future of the NYPD and New York City.
Last week, the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association released a scientific survey — conducted by a nationally renowned polling firm — in which we asked our members for their feelings on the NYPD’s working environment and their opinions of city leaders. The results were overwhelming, but not surprising.
They echoed exactly what we’ve been hearing from our members day in and day out. Morale has hit rock bottom, and 95 percent of police officers believe the city is on the wrong track.
Support for the police has decreased during the de Blasio administration, say 92 percent of our officers — and 96 percent hold an unfavorable opinion of the mayor and his policing and public-safety policies.
Equally troubling, 95 percent say they personally feel less safe while on duty.
It’s no secret that our organization and City Hall have not seen eye to eye in recent years. However, the purpose of the survey was not to assign blame. The goal was to understand the real mood of the officers out on the streets, and the results show that they generally feel unsupported by public officials. This situation isn’t good for police officers, and it isn’t good for the New Yorkers we are sworn to serve.
So how do we fix this problem?
There are many ways, including pay raises that lift us up from our current position among the lowest paid big-city police officers in the country.
However, the most urgent need is for city and state leaders to address the diminished disability benefit that currently exists for more than 11,000 of our newest officers.
Most New Yorkers probably don’t know that police officers hired since July 1, 2009, are not provided an adequate disability pension if they are injured in the line of duty — in some cases, this benefit may be less than $40 a day.
Adding insult to injury, they receive a lower level of benefits than every other police officer in New York state.
You can imagine the impact this has on officers, knowing that if they are injured on the job, they may not be able to pay their rent, put food on the table or support their families.
A few weeks ago, an officer with only two years on the job was shot. Had she been permanently disabled and retired, she would have received a disability pension from the city of as little as $14,760, or $284 per week, and would not be allowed to supplement it by taking another, less physically demanding job.
The PBA supports state legislation to correct this injustice. Our leaders in City Hall and Albany need to make a clear commitment to honor this moral obligation, with no other strings attached.
The city already expects to save more than $30 billion over the next 30 years from police-pension reductions made in 2009, so there is no fiscal excuse for forcing injured heroes to live on nickels and dimes.
New York City’s health and prosperity rests on the work that police officers do, and our leaders must come together and support them for their sacrifice.
Now is not the time to point fingers. It’s time for real solutions, not only for our officers and their families, but also for our entire city.