On July 2, 1,013 new officers graduated from the New York Police Academy, but under the Operation IMPACT program, all will join December’s graduates in high crime areas, which may mean more officers for Brooklyn and less for Queens.
In December, one-third of the graduating class went to high crime areas in Brooklyn. If the same should happen this year, it appears that Queens would be penalized with less officers for performing better in crime statistics than Brooklyn.
“That we didn’t get any new cops with December’s graduating class is a little mystifying,” said Community Board 14 District Manager Jonathan Gaska in Far Rockaway.
Operation IMPACT, which assigns rookies to work with veterans in the city’s highest crime precincts, goes by NYPD statistics. In December, one-third of the 1,800 Operation Impact officers were concentrated in central Brooklyn, especially Brownsville, Bedford-Stuyvesant, East New York and Crown Heights. Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and Mayor Michael Bloomberg defended these placements by saying they had lowered crime significantly.
“(Operation IMPACT) works for those IMPACT precincts, but it only works for the whole city if you have enough resources,” said Astoria City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr., chairman of the council’s Public Safety Committee. “Now because of the police shortage, it’s causing problems in every non-IMPACT precinct.”
Queens officials claim an upsurge in crime in the past year, especially in Far Rockaway, plagued by a spate of seven murders in 2008, a 250 percent increase over 2007 for the same time period.
“Especially in the Redfern Houses, there’s been an increase in serious crime and shooting, some due to gang activity, and the lack of officers out on patrol contributes to crime,” Gaska said.
In the 103rd Precinct, encompassing Jamaica and South Jamaica, there has been a 41.3 percent increase in felony assault and a 20 percent increase in rape.
“We need more officers in the 103rd (Precinct),” said Community Council President Donna Clopton. “There’s been more burglary and now an increase in rape. (The officers’) visibility helps.”
As of yet, the exact 2008 Operation IMPACT distributions are unknown.
“We’ve been told we’ll get additional officers this month, but we don’t know how many,” Gaska said.
“We got 48 new graduates in the 103rd,” Clopton said. “We’ve been told we’re going to lose some of them, especially the older ones.”
The NYPD failed to recruit its desired number of 2,400 new officers this past January for this month’s graduating class, recruiting only 1,013. With the new class, there are 36,838 officers, the smallest force since 1992.
The NYPD is already under pressure due to Bloomberg’s 5 percent budget cuts in January and the resulting $187 million NYPD cuts. Critics say the previous $25,100 annual rookie salary also contributed to attrition and lack of recruitment.
“The salary was a large part of the recruiting problem,” Vallone said. “It lowers morale.”
That salary is due to be raised on Friday, July 25 to $35,881 for all old and new rookies, but vacation days will be cut in half.
“Every precinct cries out for more officers and we’re not getting it due to the low pay,” Clopton said. “The mayor, instead of spending money on waterfalls, should be spending it on security for New York, one of the biggest targeted cities.”
Vallone indicated that “there is no immediate funding relief for non-IMPACT precincts. It’s a crisis situation when you have an emergency and there are only two to three patrol cars for the entire precinct and no beat cops.”