NYPD sees largest staff exodus in decades with leaders ‘refusing to acknowledge’ mounting crisis: union boss
The New York City Police Department lost more staff members last year than it has in two decades, but leadership is “refusing to acknowledge” the spiraling crisis, the city’s top police union leader said.
Things have gotten so bad that criminals could be emboldened, endangering residents and Big Apple tourists, New York City Police Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch said.
“The NYPD is playing a dangerous game by refusing to acknowledge and address its recruitment and retention crisis,” Lynch told G3 Box News Digital in a recent interview. “New Yorkers are demanding more police presence in their neighborhoods and on the subway, but we just don’t have the staffing to provide it consistently.”
The department needed at least 1,200 new recruits to reach its budgeted headcount and 2,500 new recruits if the force wants to get back to 2019 staffing levels, according to data posted by the PBA last month. Instead, the department got 543 recruits.
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Data from NYC Police Pension Fund data obtained by G3 Box News Digital show 1,955 members on the force retired in 2022 and another 1,746 quit, meaning a total of 3,701 left the ranks last year alone.
It’s the largest figure recorded in the last 20 years, even higher than in 2020 and 2021, when the massive amount of officers leaving the force dominated national headlines. There were a total of 2,811 NYPD members who quit or retired in 2021, and 3,315 in 2020.
In 2002, 3,846 NYPD members left or quit the force, which eclipses last year’s figure, according to the data.
Between 2010 and 2019, the department lost an average of 2,112 members, meaning there was a 75% increase in retirements or resignations in 2022 compared to the pre-pandemic decade average.
“Many talented, dedicated recruits don’t want to raise their hand for the NYPD because they’ll be paid better and treated better at almost any other police department,” Lynch told G3 Box News Digital. “New York City needs to make a major investment in paying and treating its police officers like professionals. It can’t afford not to.”
The staffing shortage at the NYPD is far from an isolated problem. Departments across the country face similar crises, especially in large cities.
Philadelphia is bracing to lose more officers this year than the number of recruits the city expects to bring in. That deficit is compounded by the department already being down at least 1,000 cops from where it should be, according to the local police union leader.
New Orleans was forced to bring in cops from around the state to help out with upcoming Mardi Gras parades and festivities because its police force is operating with a deficit of officers.
THESE POLICE DEPARTMENTS ARE SEEING SOME OF THE WORST STAFFING SHORTAGES IN THE US AHEAD OF 2023
And in Baltimore, a judge warned last month that the police staffing crisis in the city is so dire that it can’t be “overstated.” And the top boss of the local Fraternal Order of Police said if city leaders don’t beef up incentives and retention bonuses for recruits and cops, “the mayor and commissioner are just defunding that Baltimore Police Department in an undercover manner.”
“This regime, at the [Baltimore Police Department], is in full survival mode due to a net loss of over 300 police officers under [Police Commissioner] Harrison’s watch. Crime is still out of control, as one would expect from there being no plan to address violent crime, for the past four years, and an exodus of officers,” Baltimore City Fraternal Order of Police President Mike Mancuso told G3 Box News Digital earlier this week.
The staffing issues plaguing departments nationwide comes in the wake of “defund the police” movements and anti-cop rhetoric of 2020 sparked by the killing of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police. After Floyd’s death and amid the COVID-19 pandemic shutdowns, protests and riots broke out from coast to coast, and many police officers retired, quit or switched departments amid the fallout.
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Simultaneously, crime exploded in many areas of the country. Nationally, murders increased by nearly 30% in 2020 compared to the prior year, marking the largest single-year increase in killings since the FBI began tracking such crimes.
Some experts have attributed the murder spike to a range of issues that collided that year, including anti-police rhetoric, a culture of lawlessness promoted by liberal district attorneys and the so-called “Ferguson effect,” the theory that when police pull back in a community, it leads to a spike in violent crimes.
Jillian Snider, a former NYPD officer and lecturer at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, told G3 Box News Digital that the NYPD “started seeing abandonment from policing in 2019,” but that didn’t become an issue “until the rhetoric around defund the police hit the news” in 2020.
She argued that the NYPD needs to incentivize solid recruits to join the force.
“A lot of other agencies in this country, if you have a graduate degree, or you have another skill set, there’s minimal sign-on bonuses, or something that compensates you,” Snider said.
“For example, at other agencies, if you have a master’s degree, or a juris doctorate, or a Ph.D., you get a stipend per year, because it’s assumed that you probably have some graduate school debt. NYPD does none of that.”
NYC DETECTIVES STRUGGLE TO KEEP THE PEACE AMID LOW STAFFING, LACK OF SUPPORT
The NYPD is budgeted to employ 35,030 members but had a headcount of 33,822 as of Jan. 11. At the end of 2019, the department employed 36,289 members.
The NYC PBA characterized the staffing issues as a storm of variables causing officers to leave, including burnout as cops face growing demands and scrutiny with fewer people to take on the workload. Union officials have previously highlighted data that says they are paid at least 30% less than the average of other officers in the New York City metro region, while morale among the ranks has tanked.
The New York Post reported over the summer that the NYPD loosened its fitness requirements amid the wave of resignations and retirements, joining other departments in trying to broaden their pool of applicants to plug staffing holes. Snider slammed such plans as something that opens a department to hiring potentially “bad cops.”
“There was contemplation last year about them reducing some standards because that’s how desperate they were for people. I don’t think that’s smart,” Snider said. “Don’t make it easier to hire bad cops. We don’t have any incentivizing to be a cop in the NYPD.”
NYC MAYOR ERIC ADAMS STILL BURDENED BY CRIME ONE YEAR IN OFFICE, DESPITE DROP IN MURDERS AND SHOOTINGS
Some crimes fell in New York City last year, which was Democrat Mayor Eric Adams’ first year in office. Shootings dropped by 17% in 2022 and murders fell by 11% when compared to 2021 data. But robberies, burglaries, felony assault, grand larceny and other crimes continued in the city, spurring major crimes to increase by 22% compared to 2021.
At the PBA, Lynch and his team have been hammering the problem in public remarks, including last month when the union boss commended the drop in murders and shootings. But he said public safety will be an issue until cops are adequately paid and not overworked.
“The public safety gains announced today are proof of what the NYPD can accomplish when it directs enough attention and resources toward a problem,” Lynch said in a January press release following the NYPD announcing its end-of-year crime stats.
“The bigger problem is that we simply do not have the staffing to do it on a sustained basis, in every neighborhood and for every crime category. New York City can’t achieve its public safety goals by underpaying and overworking cops on the street.”
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G3 Box News Digital reached out to Adams’ office about the staffing woes at the NYPD as well as Lynch’s and Snider’s comments to G3 Box News Digital but was directed to the NYPD.