June 10, 2023

Can the NYPD make up all of its personnel losses?

New York City currently has roughly 4,000 fewer uniformed police officers than it did at the same time last year. That’s probably not as massive of a figure as it sounds because the NYPD still has more than 33,000 cops, comprising one of the largest police forces in the world. But it’s still a significant reduction, coming at a time when the city is experiencing rising violent crime rates at levels not seen in decades. In an effort to combat this issue, the Chief of Police recently announced that they will be recruiting 900 new applicants to the police academy for the class starting next month. But will that be too little and too late? (NY Post)

The NYPD will enroll 900 new recruits for a November Police Academy class, the city’s top cop announced Friday, but will still be about 1,800 officers short of where the ranks were last year, due to budget cuts amid the COVID-fueled financial crisis and the push to reduce ranks in response to calls to defund the police.

The new class of recruits will add to the current 34,200-member force amid an ongoing surge of gun violence across the coronavirus pandemic-stricken Big Apple.

“Next week, the NYPD will send out offers to the 2020 November Academy class. Before the new class starts, the NYPD uniform headcount will be approximately 34,200. The new class will be 900 recruits, bringing the uniform head count closer to the level expected in the Adopted Budget,” Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said in a statement.

Attempting to recruit 900 new officers is better than nothing, but New Yorkers should be aware that significant challenges remain ahead of them. First of all, this plan is based on the assumption that we can find 900 qualified people who are interested in applying. Would you want to be a cop in the Big Apple these days? This has been an ongoing challenge for the NYPD since well before the current levels of the crisis took hold. There are probably enough people out there who meet the physical requirements, but the fact that you can’t be accepted if you have any sort of significant arrest record quickly thins the ranks.

Another question is how you sell the idea of a career with the NYPD to well-qualified prospects under the current conditions. City Hall is busy blaming the cops for the world’s problems and cutting their funding. People openly ridicule and even attack the police out in the streets, with few facing any serious consequences for their actions. And in the vast majority of cases, even if you manage to do your job and bring in one of the bad guys, they are immediately put back out on the streets thanks to New York’s generous “bail reform” laws.

With all of that in mind, it will be more than a pleasant surprise if the NYPD can somehow manage to graduate 900 new officers in the immediate future. And even if they do, that will still leave them with more than 2,000 fewer officers than they had last year. The force has lost more than just warm bodies to fill uniforms, too. A lot of experience and knowledge of the community went out the door with all of the cops who quit or took early retirement this year.

There was a time when a career in law enforcement was something that school children dreamed about, along with being a fireman, an astronaut or any other glorified occupation you can think of. People didn’t go into the job with the expectation of becoming rich or famous. While things are somewhat better than they used to be, cops are still very much underpaid when you consider that they’re volunteering for a job dealing with people who are frequently inclined to shoot at them when they show up. No, people became police officers because of a sense of pride in serving their community. They were willing to risk their own safety to ensure the safety of everyone else. But these days, particularly in our larger cities, the police are treated with disrespect and contempt, if not outright violence.

Best of luck to the NYPD in refilling their ranks. I don’t envy you the task.

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