New York, NY – A tidal wave of longtime officers retired from the New York Police Department (NYPD) in 2020, resulting in a 72 percent increase from the year prior.
According to department statistics, the NYPD witnessed the mass exodus of approximately 2,600 veteran officers by the end of last year, Newsday reported.
NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said the number of retirements this year is already surpassing last year’s rate.
Additional losses could surge to about 77 percent higher than the numbers seen in 2019, Newsday reported.
“I mean, it couldn’t go any higher,” Commissioner Shea told reporters several weeks ago, according to Newsday. “What we saw in June, July, August, September [of 2020] was off the charts.”
The commissioner said the department is continuing to struggle under the “very aggressive” surge in retirements that have forced him and other department leaders to figure out how to best provide services while simultaneously dealing with a slashed budget and less personnel.
Last year’s retirement notices poured in as officers responded to hundreds of protests, during which an estimated 400 officers were injured, Newsday reported.
Rioters torched and looted multiple areas of the city and damaged dozens of patrol cars during the violent uprisings.
Huge numbers of veteran officers turned in their retirement papers over the summer – so many that NYPD had to put a cap on how many could leave per month.
The low morale was so widely known about that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security was actively trying to poach from NYPD’s ranks, the New York Post reported.
“I think it was money, I think it was finances with overtime … because if you tell someone over the next four years you are going to make less money, they have to consider that,” Commissioner Shea said of the departures, according to Newsday.
NYPD Police Benevolent Association (PBA) President Pat Lynch said the retirements have been a huge drain on the entire department.
“We practically had a line out the door of PBA headquarters this summer. Dozens upon dozens of talented, experienced cops were stopping by every week to tell us they were pulling the pin they’d had enough,” Lynch told Newsday. “Nearly 3,000 left.”
Lynch blamed the mass exodus on the fact the city is unwilling to reach deeper into its pockets to pay for high-quality officers, the New York Post reported.
“We continue to lose trained, experienced police officers to Nassau County and other departments where they can earn up to 70 percent more,” Lynch told the New York Post in a written statement. “It’s yet another sign that New York City politicians don’t really care about improving policing in this city.”
“What they want is fewer cops on streets, and their refusal to pay us a fair-market wage is getting them exactly that,” the union boss added.
NYPD had 34,184 officers in 2020, down from 36,900 in 2019, the New York Post reported.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio further handicapped his police force when he cancelled a July class of 1,200 recruits amid calls to defund the police department.
Violent crime in the city has skyrocketed. Shootings have doubled since 2019, and murders are up 40 percent, the New York Post reported in December.
That same month, approximately 50 NYPD officers resigned from the NYPD to accept positions with the Nassau County Police Department on Long Island.
Law enforcement sources told the New York Post that most of those officers had less than five years on the police force, meaning a loss of expensively-trained young officers the department had expected to have around for a long time.
“The city spent millions of dollars training these cops hoping that they would be around for another 20-plus years,” one NYPD officer said. “That money and experience just walked out the door, putting a further drain on the city’s budget nightmare.”
Sources said that many of the officers were going to initially take a pay cut to make the transfer to Nassau County PD, but that it would be worth it in the long run, the New York Post reported.
“They are going to a department where they will be better appreciated by their community, local politicians and district attorneys who still value the job they do protecting innocent people and property over criminals,” one source explained.
The source said officers who joined Nassau County’s police force will also end up making more money in the end, according to the New York Post.