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NYPD's Kelly: Slow economy keeps cops from retiring

The tough economy is keeping more cops from retiring, NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly said Thursday.

At a City Council hearing, Kelly noted that while 80 percent of cops who reach 20 years of service usually called it quits, that number is now down to 67 percent in the last fiscal year. The figure is even lower among detectives and sergeants, where only about 36 percent of those eligible are putting in for retirement, he said.

"Clearly [it's] a result of the economy," said Kelly, under questioning by Councilman Peter Vallone (D-Astoria), chairman of the public safety committee.

That's the good news, because it's keeping more experienced cops on the job. But budget cuts proposed by City Hall promise to push the department head count to 32,817 cops by June 2011, the lowest number since 1990.

Kelly said the NYPD will try to keep all its key programs, including the counterterrorism operation, adequately staffed, but he admitted it will be a challenge. The department has about 1,000 uniformed officers on counterterror duty, and Kelly said the NYPD "would be hard pressed to maintain that number" under budget constraints.

Kelly also noted that while the department has been promised $20 million in federal funding for the Securing the Cities program in the federal budget for fiscal 2010, he is still awaiting confirmation the money is on the way. The program provides radiation detectors as a line of defense against terrorist use of radioactive dirty bombs or nuclear devices.

The commissioner added that while the terror trial in New York of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other suspects appears to have been scuttled by politics, there is still no official confirmation from Washington that the city is off the hook. Security costs were estimated at $200 million for New York, mostly in police overtime because of strained staffing, said officials.

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