Record Numbers of NYPD Officers Retiring, Due to Early Pensions and Low Morale
By Yehudit Garmaise
Throughout the last decade, on average, 1,800 members of the NYPD retired every year. That number increased slightly in 2019, when 2,000 NY police officers retired. However, since the first week of October of 2020, a whopping 2,400 of New York’s finest have already left their uniforms behind, and two months of the year are still left.
Although an unusual number of protests, riots, looting, a lack of support, and budget cuts are among the reasons some cite for the recent surge in police retirement, another reason may be simply that police officers and other uniformed city employees can collect their pensions after fewer years of service than other city workers, who must wait until they are 62 to receive their pensions.
The dangerous and physically demanding nature of police work and fire-fighting is the probable reason that police officers and firefighters in New York City can begin to receive their pensions after, depending on when they were hired, 20 to 22 years of uniformed service.
Police officers in other major U.S. cities such as Los Angeles, Chicago, and San Diego, where police and firefighters must be at least 50 [years old] to receive their pensions, the Independent Budget Office of New York City reported today.
Also, police officers and firefighters typically join the force at the average young age of 26, so, once they turn 48, they can take their pensions and settle into less stressful lifestyles.
Although comfortable pensions may be one reason to explain the surge in NYPD retirement, many accounts of low morale and complaints of a lack of effective leadership in the police force may also be to blame for the higher-than-usual number of police officers and who are retiring young.
Some police officers blame Mayor Bill de Blasio for switching commissioners too often. Other officers are tired of conflicting criticisms from the public that simultaneously include accusations of policing too harshly, but also failing to prevent looting.
Many police officers cite the feeling of a lack of support from the community.
One cop, who is soon-to-retire, attributes his low morale to “protestors”, such as 24-year-old Devina Singh, who spit on a police officer during her participation last Wednesday in anti-police demonstration that took place in the West Village, during which protestors lit garbage on fire and screamed at outdoor diners.
“It riles me to no end that we don’t arrest people who spit on a cop,” the police officer said. “I cannot be in a police department where that happens.”
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