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Rocky election year expected amid rise in NYPD staff quitting

The Epoch Times

December 1, 2023

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After being injured in the line of duty during the George Floyd riots three years ago, Lt. Richard Mack retired from the New York Police Department (NYPD) in 2021.

“I got attacked on the Brooklyn Bridge by several assailants and had to get eye surgery,” Mr. Mack told The Epoch Times.

Mr. Mack is among the 14,908 police officers who either retired or quit between 2018 and 2023, leaving just 29,000 on the job, according to NYPD pension data obtained by The Epoch Times.

Although he’s no longer working in law enforcement, Mr. Mack is concerned officers who remain on the job will experience fatigue.

“There’s a lot of forced overtime,” he said. “Their lives get ruined from forced overtime. It’s going to affect officers mentally, and it’s going to affect retention. It’s going to affect police readiness when you do a double shift. You’ve got to sleep at some point.”

Police union officials are equally concerned about scheduled budget cuts that include postponing the next five police academy classes.

“This is truly a disaster for every New Yorker who cares about safe streets,” Police Benevolent Association (PBA) of New York President Patrick Hendry said in a statement. “Cops are already stretched to our breaking point, and these cuts will return us to staffing levels we haven’t seen since the crime epidemic of the 1980s and 1990s.”

New York City Mayor Eric Adams blames budget cuts on the federal government’s reluctance to provide financial assistance to address the surge in illegal immigrants, and while retired Lt. Randy Sutton, a 30-plus-year law enforcement officer and founder of The Wounded Blue, sympathizes with Mr. Adams’s dilemma, he believes public safety shouldn’t be on the chopping block at all.

The Wounded Blue is a nationwide organization that facilitates confidential assistance for police officers experiencing mental health challenges.

“I have no doubt that the situation at the border plays a major role in the degrading of our financial situation in cities throughout the country,” Mr. Sutton told The Epoch Times. “But it takes several years to hire and train competent police officers and pushing back five police academy classes will leave a major gap that will affect the next generation of New Yorkers.”

More than 200 emergency shelters have been made available to some 110,000 immigrants who arrived in the five boroughs seeking housing, according to a Sept. 9 press release issued by Mr. Adams’s office.

With approximately 10,000 illegal immigrants arriving each month, the city estimates it will cost New Yorkers $12 billion over a three year period.

Pension data further determined that 21 cops traded in their NYPD positions to work for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) between Feb. 20 and 21, which doesn’t surprise Joseph L. Giacalone, a retired NYPD Supervisor Detective Squad (SDS) sergeant.

“The issue comes down to having a better job with the MTA,” Mr. Giacalone told The Epoch Times. “You’re going to get treated better. You have better working conditions. You make more money in the long run because you’ll get a better payout in 20 years.”

Mr. Giacalone, who retired in 2012, is an adjunct at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

“Retirements can always be counted on,” he added. “They know exactly how many people could retire at any given time. It’s the resignations that have caught them flatfooted.”

Former NYPD officer Calvin Thomas worked in the Bronx as a patrol officer who answered 911 calls for 20 years before he retired and became CEO of PostNet franchises in the Bronx, Suffolk, and Virginia Beach.

“I had a few surgeries on my shoulders so I had that disability as the final reason,” Mr. Thomas told The Epoch Times. “But the department had started to mess with us a little bit, so it was time to go. The police department uses fear as a way to control and get compliance. Using fear tactics leaves you with a bunch of scared cops.”

This year, the number of officers who left money on the table and resigned before their 20-year pension started more than doubled from five years ago.

In 2023, 1,040 cops left their job without a pension compared to 409 in 2018, according to the provided pension data.

“That’s a lot of people,” Mr. Thomas added. “Quality of life is at stake because response time is going to be down.”

The timing couldn’t be worse with the 2024 presidential election year quickly approaching in January.

In 2020, leading up to the Nov. 7 elections, some Black Lives Matter demonstrations turned into organized riots, according to Mr. Mack, and NYPD pension data show that 2,424 police officers chose to retire in 2020 compared to 1,341 in 2018.

“There was video of them handing out weapons, putting out weapons the night before, and officers told me there were people with walkie talkies so they could coordinate what they were doing,” Mr. Mack added. “It was a very strategic, successful attack on numerous police officers.”

Mr. Mack predicts protests will intensify next year owing to the Israel–Hamas war in the Middle East.

“It’s created a real split in society right now where protests are going to be more escalated,” he said. “How do you deescalate a group that wants to riot? You’re going to have a rise in crime and you can expect more violent protests.”

Jordan Bieber

Associate Vice President

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