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NYPD Departures Set Record As Other Agencies Offer Higher Pay

Dan Oates, Aurora, Co., police chief, needed to find a few dozen officers to join his force. Oates was 50 officers short to patrol a city of roughly 400,000 people just east of Denver. He knew limiting his search to Colorado would not be enough: Like many other chiefs, he has found that fewer people these days want to be cops. So Oates and his team began to seek recruits at agencies where they believed pay and morale were low. They settled on New York City. In August, he flew 1,800 miles to meet with New York officers and convinced 14 of them to move out west, the New York Times reports. “I feel bad raiding my home agency,” said Oates, who once served as a deputy chief in New York City. “But frankly it’s a cutthroat environment right now among police chiefs to recruit talent, and we all desperately need it.”

The New York Police Department, with 34,000 officers, has seen more resignations this year than at any time in the past two decades as other agencies have become more aggressive in recruiting from its ranks. Through November, about 1,225 officers resigned before reaching five years of service. Many left for other New York State agencies or police departments outside the state. That compares to 870 resignations last year and 477 in 2020. The total number of officers who left the department through November, including retirees, is about 3,200, the highest overall number since November 2002. New York Police Department officers are particularly susceptible to being wooed by other agencies. Lower salaries for new recruits are a big reason. So too are longer hours amid increased attention to crime from the mayor and the public, particularly in the subway system. “Other communities are recognizing the talent and are poaching our members,” said Patrick Lynch, president of the New York City Police Benevolent Association, the union that represents the city’s police officers. If we pay our police officers a market rate of pay, they will stay here. We know that’s the answer because that’s what these other departments and jurisdictions are doing, with success.”

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