The New York City Police Department is hiring, and they want new blood so badly they are willing to relax the rigorous fitness requirements to ensure they can fill the ranks.
They are so desperate for coverage, in fact, that top brass is pulling detectives off their posts and deploying them to street corners, according to a law enforcement source who spoke with JewishPress.com on condition of anonymity this week.
The NYPD is also pulling evidence collection cops from their units to cover the gaps in the city’s hot spots, the source said.
That’s because there has been a mass exodus of experienced, veteran cops over the past couple of years – and this year in particular.
Easing Fitness Standards to Gain Recruits
The “Job Standard Test” is a required challenge that candidates must pass in order to start a six-month training stint at the Police Academy in Flushing, Queens.
The allowed duration of the six-element physical fitness test was extended last year by 29 percent, from 3 minutes and 28 seconds to 4 minutes and 28 seconds, the New York Post reported.
In addition, NYPD relaxed the “Barrier Surmount” element in the test, a fake six-foot wall candidates are required to scale. Now, according to the New York Post, that wall – a very realistic challenge faced by cops in pursuit of a fleeing suspect – has now been replaced by a chain link fence.
A chain link fence is also a realistic challenge faced by cops on the beat – but it’s not nearly as difficult to climb as a wall.
But there’s good reason for easing the test.
Mass Exodus of Veteran Cops in Progress
More than 2,100 (2,119) cops have retired or quit the NYPD since January 2022, including 1,472 who are retiring; in the first six months of 2021, 1,535 officers left the force.
Last month alone, 523 cops handed in their papers, with just 123 heading out on retirement.
The NYPD Pension Section today. NYPD members are leaving in droves. I’ve been to this office about 2 dozen times and have never seen more than 2-3 people waiting. pic.twitter.com/f35uet8KaO
— Rob O’Donnell (@odonnell_r) June 30, 2022
“The exodus has become a stampede,” Police Benevolent Association (PBA) President Pat Lynch said in a statement. “The NYPD cannot continue papering over this staffing crisis with more and more overtime. That will drive even more cops to pursue other opportunities where they can make more money and have a better quality of life.”
Worse, just 561 new cops graduated the Academy this past Friday (July 1). Look at the numbers: they don’t add up.
Good Reasons for the ‘Great Escape’
Much of the exodus – and difficulty recruiting replacements — is due to the demoralization that has taken place among the ranks in the past couple of years, combined with a deterioration in job benefits.
NYPD cops are paid less and face more threats more often than cops in other states such as Florida, Texas or Arizona, and even in other communities in New York, like those on Long Island.
Since January 1, 2022, 49 cops nationwide have been killed on the job, shot to death, run over and in high-speed chases. Eighty-five others (nationwide) have died from accidents, heart attacks, training accidents, and car crashes. Included in that figure, incidentally, are the 58 cops who died from COVID-19.
In the NYPD so far this year, two detectives, one police officer and a corrections officer have died, half of them from gunfire.
Last year (2021), 16 NYPD cops died – most of them from COVID-19 and 9/11-related illness.
The risk of contracting the coronavirus unfortunately comes as part of the job.
A cop cannot maintain social distancing when he has to take down a suspect who doesn’t want to be arrested.
Moreover, sometimes there is blood or saliva involved – both of which efficiently transmit the COVID-19 virus, along with droplets from sneezing, coughing and screaming at the cop trying to make the arrest.
‘Those Who Can Are leaving’
“There are a lot of cops who started the job because they loved the work; many came from cop families,” the source said. “Sadly, that’s not the case now.
“Those who can, are leaving. And even some of those who won’t be vested in their pensions are also leaving — after a certain point they will be able to keep their medical benefits but nothing else, and for some that’s enough.”
Bail reform, anti-cop hostility, rising crime and even the COVID-19 vaccine mandate initiated by then-Mayor Bill de Blasio – which was recently suspended – are all contributing to the mass exodus as well as the biological and mortal risks that cops face every day.
“I know guys who are just hanging on, waiting for their 20-year mark so they can retire with half-pay,” the source said.
“But there are a lot of guys who have just thrown in the towel and left anyway because they can find better conditions with less risk elsewhere.”