Low Pay and Sinking Morale Among the Reasons Cited by Officers Looking to Leave the Job; NYC Council Members Express Warning Over Losing Experienced Officers
The Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association of the City of New York (NYC PBA) today announced that a record number of police officers — more than 1,200 — have registered for a pension seminar on Wednesday evening, the latest sign that the number of officers considering retirement is rapidly increasing. New York City police officers are among the lowest paid both locally and nationally, and PBA members have cited this pay gap — along with sinking morale caused by a lack of support — as the chief reasons for exploring their retirement options.
A survey of PBA members showed that 92% believe the support for police officers has decreased under Mayor de Blasio, while 89% said they’d leave for a better paying job. A pension seminar held in late 2016 attracted 850 police officers, with subsequent seminars reaching similarly high attendance. This week’s seminar, which is expected to reach full capacity, will be on Wednesday evening, February 28, at Antun’s in Queens Village.
In another troubling trend, the number of police officers leaving the NYPD without receiving a pension reached a six-year high in 2017, with 517 resigning in comparison with the 169 who quit in 2011. This wave of resignations has included top NYPD Police Academy graduates, including the valedictorian of one recent Academy class who left for another local police job paying 43% more.
PBA president Patrick J. Lynch said: “The signs are all there: the lowest pay, survey numbers that demonstrate officer dissatisfaction, a serious increase in resignations without a pension and the highest number of registrations for our latest pension seminar. It’s a formula for losing our best, brightest and most experienced police officers, and that’s a problem for the whole city. But it’s a problem that would easily be solved by paying our police officers a market rate of pay.”
Council Member Rory Lancman said: "Record numbers of cops signing up to learn about their retirement options should be setting off alarm bells at City Hall that it's time to give the men and women who keep us safe salaries and benefits commensurate with their risks and sacrifices. It's no longer merely absurd that NYPD officers make less money than their suburban counterparts, it's threatening the real gains we've made in bringing cops closer to our communities, in using technology to maximize crime-fighting, and in professionalizing policing."
Council Member Chaim Deutsch said: “New York City police officers are tasked with a difficult and dangerous job. We need to do more than just thank them for their service. We must provide them with fair pay and benefits so that we don’t lose them to other departments or other cities. The cost of living in New York City is rising, but our police officers aren’t seeing that reflected in their paychecks. The city is spending millions of dollars to train officers, and then just a couple of years later, we’re losing some of our best to cities with better pay and benefits. We must make this city an appealing place for officers to work, so that we can continue to keep crime rates down and ensure our communities are a safe place to raise our families.”
Council Member Ritchie Torres said: “New York City is safer today than ever before, in large part due to the hard work and sacrifice of our police officers. In order to maintain these record low crime levels, we have to consider what it takes to keep the best and most experienced officers in the city instead of allowing them to retire early and take another job somewhere else. I intend to work with the Mayor and my City Council colleagues on both sides of the aisle to achieve this important public safety goal."
Council Member Donovan Richards, Chair of the City Council’s Public Safety Committee, said: “These police officers exploring retirement — experienced and well-trained law enforcement professionals with good judgement — are the very officers we should be focused on keeping. I’m committed to work with my colleagues in the Council to do our part."
Council Member Justin Brannan said: “Losing 1,000 of our most experienced police officers would negatively impact my community and communities across the city. As Council Members, we must work together to make sure these officers are not leaving because of pay inequity or lack of support, and that if they want to stay on the job and keep our city safe, they have the ability to do so.”
Council Member Keith Powers said: “As members of the City Council, one of our most important responsibilities is to support the women and men who keep us safe every day. The numbers of veteran police officers exploring retirement this week is staggering, and indicates there are economic issues and other concerns that are driving them away — perhaps to other police departments. We need to keep these officers right here in New York City, and I pledge to work with my colleagues and other city leaders to do so.”