After years of struggling to lure top-quality recruits, the New York Police Department is finding that the prolonged recession – coupled with a significant increase in first-year salaries – has generated new interest in police careers, says the New York Times. Applications rose 54 percent in 2008 from 2007, when there were 17,212 applicants. The wider pool has enabled more diversity; the percentage of black, Hispanic and Asian officers has steadily risen since 2000, as has the percentage of female officers.
In 1999, 17 percent of the force had four-year college degrees; this year, the figure rose to 24 percent. The department has been unable to fully take advantage of the surplus of talented applicants because of hiring restrictions tied to the city's budget crisis. Over the next year, the department will continue to shrink through attrition to 34,304 members, about 6,000 fewer than in 2001. “When we had the money, we didn't have the people,” said police commissioner Ray Kelly. “Now we have the people and we don't have the money. We have people knocking on our door and we can't do anything.”