NYPD's Third Platoon officers at the 75th Precinct in Brooklyn attend...

NYPD's Third Platoon officers at the 75th Precinct in Brooklyn attend roll call in April. Credit: Craig Ruttle

The New York City Police Department continues to lose officers through an accelerating pace of retirements which has driven the department’s head count down to a level it has not seen in a decade, police officials say.

"It is going to get worse before it gets better," NYPD commissioner Dermot Shea said earlier this week in a television interview. "We are seeing significant attrition."

From January 1 through October 6, some 2,171 officers retired, an increase of over 72% from the same period in 2019, at a time when the city is facing a number of major crime challenges, officials say. An additional 2,385 officers have filed for retirement, meaning they are awaiting approval from the pension or medical boards to leave the job, statistics from the NYPD show.

2020 retirements

Time periodRetirementsResignationsFiled for retirement
Retirement: Leaving after hitting retirement age, generally after 20 years of service. Resignation: Leaving before hitting retirement age. Filing for retirement: Applying in contemplation of retirement. Source: NYPD

The loss of officers this year has dropped the NYPD strength by 2,567 officers to a head count of 34,488, the lowest it has been in 10 years, Chief Martin Morales, head of personnel, told Newsday Thursday.

In 2019 the average daily head count was 36,645, officials noted.

The big drain for the NYPD comes at a time when shootings and murders are spiking and the department can ill afford to lose experienced officers, said Richard Aborn, head of the Citizens Crime Commission, a nonprofit organization dealing with police and crime issues.

The NYPD has gone through bouts of large retirements before. But each time the agency could rebound by back filling with new cops. However, this year because of the coronavirus pandemic and recent budget cuts, academy classes for April and July were canceled. As officers retire, they are not replaced in the head count.

Law enforcement sources said they were hopeful money could be found for a new class but it will take six months to get new recruits out on the street.

Meanwhile, the monthly loss officers is about double what it was last year, Morales said.

"If you look at from January to May, we averaged about 200 retirements a month," Morales said. "If you look at June through September, we have averaged nearly 400, so we have doubled. Last year I had only one month that was above 200."

Morales believed officers were leaving due to bail reform, police reform, anti-police sentiment and $1 billion defunding of the department which cut overtime spending.

"It could be one of those or a combination of all of them," Morales said of the retirement reasons.

"It is no wonder that police officers are retiring at record rates," Aborn said. "This is all the more reason the City Council must restore funding to bring in a new class of police officers."

Veteran officers said that the loss of talent is draining the department of experienced people who could mentor new officers.

"The problem in particular with the rank of detective is that you are losing knowledge, talent and experience," said Paul DiGiacomo head of the Detective’s Endowment Association.

Patrick Lynch, head of the Police Benevolent Association, blamed city hall.

"Our department has never seen so much talent and experience walking off the job as we have these past few months," said Lynch in a statement. "And thanks to the City Council and Mayor’s ‘Defund the Police’ lunacy, no help is coming any time soon."

Julia Arredondo, a spokeswoman for Mayor Bill DeBlasio, said City Hall was working tirelessly with first responders and wouldn’t allow Lynch’s "instigation" to get in the way.

Jennifer Fermino, spokeswoman for Council speaker Corey Johnson, declined to comment.

Both Shea and Morales said the department has no choice but to tighten its belt. With the flu season arriving, Morales hoped it wouldn’t make a tough situation worse.

"It is all a challenge," Morales said.

NYPD head count for selected years

Current (Sept. 30): 34,488

2019 (Avg.): 36,645

2015 (Avg.): 35,217

2011 (Avg.) 34,565

2010 (Avg.) 35,135

(Average daily head count)


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