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  • CBS New York

    NYPD suffering from record number of officers retiring or quitting

    By Jennifer Bisram,


    NYPD suffering from exodus of officers, creating safety and security concerns 03:38

    NEW YORK -- Officers are leaving the NYPD at record rates.

    It comes at a time when the city says major crime overall is down, but CBS New York found that's not the case in all neighborhoods.

    Reporter Jennifer Bisram took a deep dive into why officers are walking out the door and what's being done to keep them and recruit them.

    There are safety and community concerns in the Big Apple.

    "More officers are needed because of their influence, impact they make in a positive way," said Denean Ferguson, a faith leader and community activist.

    Ferguson is a trusted voice in the Rockaways in Queens, where there has been a decline in police officers. Almost 40% in the 101st Precinct in Far Rockaway have retired or quit in the last four years.

    "Being seen in the community, around in their cars, community in the streets, walking, talking, it gives us a sense of safety," Ferguson said.

    FLASHBACK : NYPD transitioning to younger detectives due to retirement of 500 veterans in the last year

    The exodus comes as major crime in the neighborhood is up about 9% this year compared to the same time last year.

    "We are short over 7,000 police officers from the highest peaks in the NYPD. We are losing over 200 police officers a month," Police Benevolent Association President Patrick Hendry said.

    The PBA says the NYPD has seen historically high attrition over the past four years, with more cops leaving and fewer coming in. According to the city's Independent Budget Office, 2,931 officers either quit or retired last year, with only 2,345 recruitments.

    "They're walking out the doors because there aren't any extra incentives for them to stay," Hendry said.

    The data also shows the NYPD is at its lowest headcount since 1990, when there were 32,451 cops for a population of over 7 million. Today, there are 33,541 officers tasked with keeping over 8 million people in the five boroughs safe.

    "Slots have to be filled, so we have to do the overtime whether you want it or not. Whether you have something to do with your family, you gotta go out and do the overtime. You can't say no," a housing officer named Rennington said.

    Rennington has been with the NYPD for 18 years. He's one of nearly 1,000 officers getting ready to retire or walk off the job who attended a PBA retirement seminar, one of the highest turnouts ever.

    CBS New York were there exclusively.

    Another officer named Johnny has been with the NYPD for nearly 20 years.

    "The job has changed," said Johnny, who is based in Queens. "Not too many cops on the street. They're not going to respond to your job in a timely matter."

    There are several pieces of legislation the PBA says would help with recruitment and keeping cops on the job longer.

    "They will help some of our seasoned employees stay on the force," Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer-Amato said. "We have a prior service credit bill. Some folks work as traffic officers, EMTs and take the officer test and want to come on board. We want their prior credit to count."

    The NYPD said the department regularly monitors attrition and plans to address the issue, adding, "While recent events outside of the department continue to present challenges to recruitment efforts, we continue to focus on the positive results that happen when someone joins the organization."

    "You can ask any of us if we would do it again. We all would," Rennington said.

    Lawmakers are hoping to have the legislation for officers included in the upcoming state budget.

    In the meantime, officers say they will continue to protect New Yorkers with what they have.

    The NYPD says 669 recruits were hired in January and the department anticipates hiring 600 more in April.

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