New York may be the safest big city in the nation, but it’s running out of cops. The NYPD will fall more than 2,000 recruits short of its 3,000-officer hiring target for its next academy class, department officials revealed yesterday during a City Council public safety hearing. (For those of you who don’t like math, that’s two thirds short!) Force size is also down to under 36,000 officers—5,000 fewer than in 2000. “We have serious problems,” Rafael Pineiro, the department’s chief of personnel, conceded. No kidding. Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, a police officers’ union, warned that the situation has reached a “crisis point,” leaving the city vulnerable to crime. Quote: “The NYPD is unable to recruit and retain enough qualified candidates to staff the precincts and commands in the city at a level that is safe,” he said. Well, that’s not good.
Police and union officials seem to agree that the main culprit of the hiring shortfall is low pay. Starting base salaries on the force are just $25,000, increasing every year to just under $60,000 following the completion of five and a half years of service. But according to the NYPD recruitment website, when overtime, nightshifts, holiday pay and uniform allowance are included, the average officer actually earns over $35,000 during his or her first year and $77,000 after six, plus health benefits and other perks. Promotional exams administered regularly also provide opportunities for advancement to higher paying positions including detective and sergeant (average earning $100,000) and Lieutenant (average earning $122,000). Now, that doesn’t sound so bad, does it?
In order to raise salaries, officers would need new contracts, something they have been working without for three years due to stalled talks between police unions and the city. Each side, of course, blames the other for a failure to settle. Shocking, we know. Let’s just hope they’re able to increase hires soon, before New York joins the rest of the country’s crime wave.
Photo courtesy of Wetsun on Flickr