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NYPD officers retiring in large numbers, officials say

NYPD Third Platoon officers at the 75th Precinct

NYPD Third Platoon officers at the 75th Precinct in Brooklyn attend roll call in April 2020. Credit: Craig Ruttle

Thousands of New York City Police Officers retired or have put in for retirement during a four-month period extending from the end of May to September, a 75% increase over the same period last year, police officials said.

The large exodus of talent and experience is something NYPD officials such as NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea see as a troubling trend, one the department is monitoring with growing concern during a period of exploding street violence and shootings.

"In terms of attrition, we are up about 50%...We project it to go much higher," Shea told reporters recently at a briefing.

The NYPD reported that since May 25 through Sept. 10, the number of officers who retired totaled 1,189 compared to 679 in the same period for 2019, according to statistics compiled by the NYPD and provided to Newsday.

Time periodRetirementsResignationsFiled for retirement
3/1 to 9/10/201,6291621,893
3/1 to 9/10/191,068244913
    
5/25 to 9/10/201,189981,473
5/25 to 9/10/19679138496
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

Additionally, a larger number of officers — 1,473 — put in for retirement, meaning they have applied to leave but are awaiting pension board decisions and other proceedings before they turn in their shields, officials said. That is an increase of nearly 200% over the same period in the prior year.

The NYPD lost $1 billion dollars from its budget this year, and the department has no upcoming police academy classes to bring in new blood to replace officers who have left, officials said.

The big problem, Shea said, is that some of the most experienced officers and detectives in the business are leaving without the prospect of replacement in the foreseeable future.

"You can replace sometimes a number on a ledger, or hire X more [personnel]," Shea said. "We are losing people who love this city, love the people of the city, love this agency."

Paul DiGiacomo, head of the Detective’s Endowment Association, said that his members are leaving because of the growing frustration with bail reform and other criminal justice measures passed by the City Council and in Albany, which are perceived as making it more difficult for officers to do their jobs. Anti-police demonstrations have also hurt morale, he said.

"We are losing a lot of talent, especially in the detective bureau," DiGiacomo said. "Replacing is one thing, learning and teaching is another."

Those losses, which he said have affected 500 seasoned detectives, will trickle down and hurt various specialized units such as special victims and crime scene analysis, which benefit from experienced people.

Shea said there is no prospect of the department getting fresh recruits in the short term since the budget cuts have stalled new hiring. While the NYPD had close to 36,000 uniformed members earlier in the year, the rate of attrition has dropped about 2,000 officers from the rolls, Shea said.

NYPD statistics show that from March 1 through Sept. 10, 1,629 officers retired and left the force, and an additional 1,893 filed for retirement, with the bulk of those coming in the period after May 25. In the same period for 2019, retirements totaled 1,068 and filings for retirement numbered 1,893. Under NYPD personnel rules and labor contracts, officers filing for retirement may actually be obligated to work until their cases are adjudicated by the pension board, officials said.

Statistics show that 162 officers resigned since March 1 before reaching retirement age — generally after 20 years of service.

The flood of retirements have hit Shea emotionally. He recalled having to meet in his office with those leaving for what turned out to be tearful goodbye sessions.

Along with attrition, Shea said the NYPD has been hurt by a loss of a big chunk of overtime money, which has constricted his ability to shift resources to crime hot spots.

"We have utilized overtime for the last number of years to focus in extra resources where it is needed the most and that is another significant gap," Shea said. "But we will work on it. We have no choice [but] to work around it."

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