Veteran NYPD officers fed up with anti-police rhetoric and protests are handing in their badges in large numbers.
What You Need To Know
- 813 NYPD officers retired between March 1 and July 22
- 1,172 cops filed paperwork saying they want to retire
- Many cops are retiring because of anti-police rhetoric and protests
- Many cops also retire because they’ve made a lot of overtime, which factors into their pensions
“To all the so-called political leaders of the city who have abandoned the safety of the city for political expediency, our cops are not political pawns,” said deputy inspector Richard Brea in June.
That's when he abruptly retired from the NYPD, accusing elected officials of demonizing cops as protests against police brutality spread across the city and nation.
Brea made headlines, but he is not alone in leaving the department.
From March 1 through July 22, 813 NYPD officers retired, and another 1,172 cops filed paperwork to follow them out the door.
It's a big jump from the same period last year, when 724 cops retired and 749 officers filed for retirement.
The NYPD said officers leave for personal reasons, but the current wave of retirements is a troubling trend that it’s closely monitoring.
Brea says it was time to go because he sees NYPD leadership and elected officials using a so-called light touch in dealing with the spike in shootings and murders this year. He stood in front of the 46th precinct where he was the commander as dozens of cops applauded his stern message.
“Let’s not forget the fallen members that have paid the ultimate sacrifice to ensure the safety of this city. Their blood is in the concrete and every street corner, but these politicians don’t want to remember that. They want to blame and vilify everyone here. I won’t have that. No, sir. No, sir,” said Bea.
Another retiring commander wanted to remain anonymous.
“Everyone has turned their backs on us. From the media, to politicians, to some of our own. Sad to see decades of hard work and many sacrifices (many were officers’ lives) be washed away. The media hasn’t helped. They irresponsibly portray a department that’s out of control. We know that’s not true,” the now retired commander said.
But it’s not just anti-police rhetoric that has cops hanging up their gun belts.
Some cops are upset by how the department handled the spread of the coronavirus among the ranks.
For many others, retirement is a financial move. Pensions are based in part on how much an officer makes in the final year on the job. Overtime was plentiful in the past few months especially because of protests. Overtime will be cut dramatically in the next year because of police reforms and the budget crisis.
Deputy Inspector Ernest Morales retired on July 17 from his Bronx post. He’s not upset with the rhetoric against cops. He feels he wasn’t given opportunities for advancement, so he took the job of deputy police commissioner in Mount Vernon, Westchester County.
The 30-year veteran cop said it's concerning that other veteran cops are leaving because of reforms they see as unfair to them.
“If they have the time on the job they are walking away because this is a bad time for them," Morales said. "That’s unfortunate because you have experience that is walking away. You need the experience, you need the mentors of the department to take the younger officers under the wing too so that we continue to develop effective leaders throughout the city."
As a person of color, he said he understands reforms were needed. But he believes cops are fearful of being prosecuted because of changes to the law about how and when to make arrests. He says that leaves good citizens vulnerable to criminals.