New York City police are jumping fences and confines to head for small towns and rural areas to enforce laws and live more peacefully. Earlier this year the trend raised eyebrows, but now it’s triggering air raid sirens in the Empire State. The stampede — an average of 339 officers a month — portends that by New Year’s Eve, more than 4,000 officers will have left the department. The adage about the grass always being greener on the other side appears to apply.
“Three thousand have quit or retired so far this year—the most since September 11,” advised Patrick Lynch, president of the Police Benevolent Association. “Almost half of the departures are leaving for other, better-paying jurisdictions — younger police officers who have not come to retirement age yet.”
Ah, that green grass. In October, NYPD responded to the impending loss with optimism and a plan:
“The NYPD regularly monitors attrition and plans accordingly to address the loss of officers who retire or leave the department for a variety of reasons. Year to date, we have hired approximately 2000 individuals, including 600 individuals who were hired last Wednesday and who have already begun their training at the Police Academy.”
Still, God-fearing, law-abiding New Yorkers might want to invest in a Louisville slugger or other protection tools as violent crime is skyrocketing. And that includes robbery, felony assault, burglary to start, and transit crime is 30% higher than last year.
New York City: The Place to Poach
The Big Apple attempted to poach members of the LGBTQ community from Florida last spring to no avail. Who wants to leave the land of freedom and warmer climes? But the road in the opposite direction is being taken. The most recent carrots of great pay, signing bonuses, and less administrative nitpicking are dangled by states like Florida and Colorado.
In 2021, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis began a social media campaign aimed at New York’s finest. And let’s face it, a seasoned NY beat cop is a catch. Among 14 former NYPD officers who made the move to the city of Lakeland, officer Matt Spoto was blown away by how other departments are run. “It was an eye-opener,” he remarked, implying that NYC was not that great of a place to be on the street. “It was almost like I was ashamed to be a law enforcement officer.” Of course, there is nothing like a pay raise, signing bonus, and the benefit of no state or local income taxes to put a cherry on top. Spoto also thought it was cool he could park his patrol car in front of his house. Ah, the little perks of leaving the mega-metropolis.
Dan Oates, a former NYPD deputy chief, left for Aurora, CO, to become police chief. He has since retired but not before recruiting more than a dozen highly trained officers for his department. Who wouldn’t want to leave a city where violence is up and pay is low? Aurora’s starting salary for officers is $20,000 more than the Big Apple’s, where baseline salaries for the NYPD hit the max at roughly $85,000 after five and a half years on the job.
Oates was sheepish about the move but resolute in the decision, stating: “I feel bad raiding my home agency. But frankly, it’s a cutthroat environment right now among police chiefs to recruit talent, and we all desperately need it.”
Brace Yourselves, NYC
The challenges for New York’s law enforcement agency are shared by those in most major American cities: crime, taxes, and cost of living far exceeding the average cop’s salary. Add in calls for defunding the people in charge of public safety, and no wonder there is a big problem. Even Lynch couldn’t find a good excuse to stay: “We certainly don’t blame anybody for leaving. But New York City needs to wake up.”
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