New York police recruits are so strapped for cash that for the first time, they are being offered a credit card in the Police Academy to help them make ends meet, reports the New York Daily News. A Visa card provided by the Municipal Credit Union is the latest opportunity for underpaid newbies to rack up personal debt in order to buy essentials they need for their job. “The pay is terrible and I needed the help,” said one recruit who took out a loan to buy all his gear. “I don’t go out too much. I don’t have a girlfriend. I can’t afford one. I’m lucky that I have a family that is supportive.”
Under a 2005 decision by a state arbitration panel, recruits earn just $25,100 during their six months in the academy – meaning they take home about $600 every two weeks. Recruits are required to bring in a $700 money order to cover academy uniforms, books, and an equipment bag. City cops must pay for virtually all their equipment except for gun, badge, and bulletproof vest. In two years, the credit union has made more than $3 million in 36-month loans to empty-pocketed rookies, at 10.45 percent interest. For the first time, it is offering the $500-limit low-interest credit card.