The New York City Police Department could be facing a huge issue in the next couple months. The New York Post reported that nearly 3,000 veteran police officers who entered the force 20 years ago under the seminal Safe City, Safe Streets Program are eligible to retire by the end of this month.
The story behind this veteran force
This wave of potential retirees entered the Police Academy on August 30, 1993, according to the news source. The first class was hired under the 1994 Safe City, Safe Streets Program, which was developed by then newly-inaugurated Mayor Rudolph Giulliani in an effort to reduce drugs, especially crack, on the streets.
"They were recruited under Mayor David Dinkins and hit the streets in March 1994, just two months after Mayor Giuliani began his first term, part of a new vanguard seeking to address the crack epidemic roiling the city," one police source has stated to The New York Post.
Over the course of the next five years, the NYPD added 7,000 cops in all and it increased its ranks from 31,000 to more than 38,000. According to the news source, the department continued to add more officers to its ranks over time until it reached max capacity in 2001 with 40,800 individuals on the force. The intention of the mass hiring was to make the city safer and it was a massive success by most standards. The city's crime rate significantly decreased during the course of the program.
Number of officers on the force on the decline
The New York Post reported that since 2001, the number of officers on the force has decreased steadily to its current level of 38,000. Officials fear that once the members of the Safe City, Safe Streets police academy class are up for retirement, numbers will fall even more. More than 80 percent of officers have historically retired after reaching 20 years on the force.
City Councilman Peter Vallone, head of the Public Safety Committee, told the news source that ignoring the issue and not recruiting more trainees now will cause problems.
"I think people should be extremely worried," Vallone told the news source. "Safe City, Safe Streets taught us a lesson, and it's a lesson that people are forgetting. There doesn't seem to be any plan to keep up with the attrition. The crime rate has stopped dropping at the level that it has in the past, and certain crimes have been going up, and that's directly the result of not having enough cops on the street."
Current Mayor of New York City Michael Bloomberg has told CBS Local News that he believes just because officers can retire, doesn't mean that they will.
"I don't know that a lot of cops are going to retire," Bloomberg said, according to the news source. "I think it's a wonderful job, and a lot of cops that I meet have stayed on a lot past 20 years, and I would hope that lots of them would do that."
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