New York Daily News

August 11, 2000

NYPD Ad Shocker: Star to Retire

By JOHN MARZULLI
Daily News Staff Writer

Everybody loves Raymond, but Raymond's real-life brother — a New York City police sergeant who stars in the NYPD's new recruitment ads — has lost his love for the job.

Moments after police brass unveiled their new $10 million recruitment campaign yesterday, Sgt. Richard Romano said he was retiring because he had reached "the breaking point."

Romano, 43, and his brother, comic Ray Romano, star of the CBS sitcom "Everybody Loves Raymond," appeared at Police Headquarters to kick off the ad campaign.

NYPD Sgt. Richard Romano (l.) and his brother actor Ray Romano (r.) after a news conference at Police Headquarters. x
NYPD Sgt. Richard Romano (l.) and his brother actor Ray Romano (r.) after a news conference at Police Headquarters.

Ray, 42, cracked up the audience with a few quips, but it was Richard who nearly brought down the house with his comments after the news conference.

Asked by the Daily News why he was retiring next month after 20 years on the force, Romano replied: "Monetarily it doesn't really pay now with the incentive you get to retire....I've done 20 years on the streets, and every man has his point where he says it's his breaking point....He just knows when to stop."

Police union officials seized on Romano's candor, saying his comments are in line with the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association's current ad campaign, which focuses on retaining veteran officers and increasing salaries. "Salary is the only thing that will recruit police officers and keep the police officers already here on the job," said PBA President Patrick Lynch.

"This should not come as a surprise to anyone," said Bernard Pound, president of the Sergeants Benevolent Association. "A sergeant with 20 years' experience is making $60,000, while his counterparts in neighboring counties are making $105,000. If people at headquarters are shocked by this, they're not being candid."

Romano also mentioned that he was supervising the Manhattan gang unit detective who shot and killed unarmed Patrick Dorismond in March — and that he arrived at the scene moments after the shooting.

A police official later appealed to reporters not to print Romano's comments, saying the sergeant was "not trained" to speak to the media.

The NYPD spent $10 million on a recruiting campaign last year that produced 10,301 test-takers in October — a cost of roughly $1,000 per applicant. While police officials called the expenditure a success because it produced a larger pool of city residents for the tests than in the previous year, union and elected officials said the campaign was a failure.

"We concluded the last program was less than effective," said City Councilman Herbert Berman (D-Brooklyn), chairman of the Finance Committee. "The results of this campaign will determine whether they are throwing bad money after bad money."

The campaign features print ads and outdoor advertising depicting stories of NYPD cops as told by people who know them.

The Romanos, who grew up in Forest Hills, Queens, are featured in an ad with brother Ray saying of Richard, "He has a courage that I'll never have."

Ray said Richard is a technical consultant to his CBS sitcom — on the show, Ray's brother is also a cop. Richard "was the brave one," Ray said yesterday. "He puts his life on the line, and I tell jokes about diapers."

Police brass across the country have encountered difficulty recruiting because of the strong economy, availability of higher-paying jobs and, some say, the cloud over police work because of recent police brutality cases.

The campaign will spend $3 million on production and $7 million for media placement, with the work being done free by ad agency Robert A. Becker Euro RSCG Worldwide and Caroline Jones Inc., a public relations firm that will target the minority community.

The PBA has spent about $750,000 so far for its print, radio and TV campaign, which includes a controversial staged scene of a cop lying in a pool of blood. Many TV stations refused to air that graphic scene.