Mayor's new budget cuts will bring NYPD ranks to lowest number in years
By Frank Lombardi
Daily News Staff Writer
The Police Department will not fill nearly 1,000 cop slots because of budget cuts, bringing the total uniformed headcount to 36,838 next year, the lowest in years, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said today.
Kelly's testimony at a City Council budget hearing prompted concern by councilmembers that police manpower is being stretched too thin and that Kelly won't be able to maintain his unbroken record of lower crime rates in the future.
In a statement, the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association decried the headcount reduction, contending it will shrink the department to the lowest level in 16 years.
But Kelly said the reduction of 1,000 officers will be achieved by not filling many of the vacancies caused by retirements and other attrition of current officers. He maintained the reduced headcount "will not affect current operations."
Because of the deteriorating national economy and potential revenue losses in the city, Mayor Bloomberg imposed a 2.5% cut for most city agencies in the current budget, which ends June 30. That cost the NYPD $91.1 million, Kelly said.
Another 5% cut was imposed by the mayor for the new fiscal year that starts July 1, forcing another NYPD budget reduction of $187 million. The 1,000 reduction of uniformed officers will save the department $37.3 million.
Kelly said reducing the headcount makes sense because the department still has difficulty hiring enough new officers, due largely to the unresolved issue of the low $25,000 salary paid to rookies while they are in the Police Academy. An arbitration decision in that dispute is expected in April, he said.
To maintain the new 36,838 headcount, the NYPD will have to hire 1,817 new officers in July 2008 and 1,261 in January 2009, he said.
Also: New York City Faces the Prospect of Its Smallest Police Force Since the 1990s