The number of New York City police recruits dropping out of the police academy has skyrocketed since the department lowered its starting salary, reports the New York Post. Statistics show escalating double-digit losses at the academy with every class since the city reduced the police starting salary in 2006 to a puny $25,100 – a level set during bitter arbitration between the cop union and city. The “fall-off” figure of would-be cops – who flunked, were dumped or quit for greener pastures – reached a historic 20 percent just two months ago, when the academy graduated a paltry 914 of a class that started with 1,142.
That translates into one out of five recruits never making it onto the streets, putting further pressure on filling gaps through various “Impact Zones” and other police units that have recently come to rely on new rookies. The trend has continued in the current class, with 1,217 wannabe cops already losing about 150 recruits, or 13 percent. In contrast, the last class of recruits paid at the higher, $40,000 salary in July 2005 had a “fall-off” rate of just 11.8 percent. The problem of filling academy classes has been so significant that the department could not attract enough recruits to fill 800 vacant spots – which allowed Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly to tell the City Council he could accept another round of budget cuts by slashing 1,000 slots he could not fill in the first place. Kelly said the “primary reason” that academy recruits drop out is money. “They didn’t realize how low [the starting salary] was. They saw what it re sulted in a check every two weeks, and they decided they are going to go elsewhere.”