Recent news reports have highlighted the increasing exodus of the NYPD. The department, which is already several thousand fewer officers than it was in June 2020, is now losing young officers faster than it can replace them. Remaining officers are under increased pressure to maintain response times and reduce crime, often by being forced to work excessive amounts of overtime. These conditions will only accelerate the downward spiral and the exodus.
Government leaders must recognize that the job market has changed and law enforcement agencies must adapt to attract and retain the best candidates.
While law enforcement agencies across the country struggle to recruit new officers, the NYPD doesn’t have that problem. Thousands of young men and women have taken recent police exams and are being evaluated for possible hires. Trouble arises after these recruits graduate from the police academy, quickly becoming disillusioned by low pay and poor working conditions, and realizing that, as NYPD officers, they are some of the most most sought after professionals in the United States. NYPD officers have a starting salary of $42,000, about $20 an hour. They last received a raise in July 2016, almost seven years ago, and have been working without a contract since July 31, 2017.
Many of the young officers leaving the department have never gotten a raise, despite having worked for the NYPD for more than five years. Departments across the country are aggressively recruiting our most promising young officers. Last week, recruiters from the Dallas Police Department were here and offered NYPD officers a starting salary of $79,000, almost double what they make now.
I have talked to many young officers who have gone to other agencies and they all cite the same reasons of better pay, better working conditions, easier travel, lower cost of living and better quality of life; the same reasons people leave one private employer for another.
One young officer I spoke to represented everything the NYPD has sought to recruit in recent years: a Canarsie native who grew up in public housing and earned a master’s degree before joining the NYPD. His reasons for him to leave the NYPD after five years? Better pay, a shorter work week, more community and political support, and a 15-minute commute to work (compared to his New York commute of over an hour each way). He also expressed his belief that he could never buy his own house in New York with the high cost and low salary, and that she would not be forced to work long overtime shifts.
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Several Bureau of Traffic officers have told me they are forced to work 75 hours overtime every month, often missing their scheduled days off, and patrol officers have similar complaints. They see no end in sight to this as they have to make up for staff shortages.
Officers of my generation had a seemingly insatiable appetite for overtime. Today’s generation is different. Like others in their age group, they work to live, rather than live to work. Their free time and their quality of life are more important to them than extra money.
The average age of a person joining the NYPD is 25 years old. The pandemic has permanently changed the business world, with most employers, including most New York City agencies, allowing employees to work hybrid or even fully remote hours. Police departments recruit from the same pool of youth. Since surveillance cannot be done remotely, agencies need to offer potential employees something to entice them. They need to see policing as a viable profession in which they can make a living. Lowering standards to fill vacancies is a recipe for disaster with consequences that last for decades.
In July, the Kentucky State Police increased the starting salary for new troopers to $62,000 and gave all current troopers a $15,000 raise. This not only halted the exodus of experienced staff from the agency, but also recently hired its largest recruiting class in over a decade. Other agencies are also offering substantial raises, along with other incentives including a four-day work week and a car to take home.
New York City police officers are not only the lowest paid in the region, but they are quickly falling behind the rest of the country, and unless drastic action is taken soon, our best will soon be the best elsewhere. cities.
The public has a right to expect the best in police performance. Like any other profession, you get the best talent by paying for it. We expect our police officers to think like lawyers, talk like psychologists, and perform like athletes. You cannot reasonably expect professional policing if you do not treat police officers as professionals.
Corey retired from the NYPD last year after nearly 35 years of service and ended up as department chief, the highest-ranking officer.