April 23, 2002
By KIERAN CROWLEY and ERIK LENKOWITZ
New York City cops are jumping ship for Long Island at a record pace.
A new Suffolk County Police Department class of 110 recruits was sworn in yesterday and 54 of them, or nearly half, were former NYPD cops, officials said.
That's a significant percentage rise for the Suffolk department, which has consistently attracted New York City cops to the job because of its higher salaries.
"Numerically there are fewer this year, but percentage-wise, there are more," said Chief of Department Philip Robilotto.
The chief noted that in September 2000, Suffolk hired 152 people, and of them, 40 percent, or 61 recruits, were former NYPD cops.
On June 4, 2001, the department hired a class of 140 police officers, 67 of them or 47 percent were ex-NYPD cops.
"We're pleased and proud to have them," the chief said of the former city cops.
"We think the city has a magnificent department, and we're proud to hire their people. We get a good product out of New York City . . . [which is] probably the best department in the world."
Robilotto said the fast pace of defections had nothing to do with the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and everything to do with money.
"The issue is always the same," the chief said of the former NYPD recruits. "Our officers make more money."
The starting salary for yesterday's Suffolk class was $45,980. In six months, when they are assigned street duty, the rookies will earn $47,980. At top scale in the department, Suffolk cops pull in $80,900.
At the NYPD, new recruits earn $31,305 in the academy, the same when they hit the street, and $54,978 at top scale.
The NYPD had 39,500 officers as of June 2001. In Suffolk, the department numbered 2,667 at the end of that year, officials said.
The NYPD declined comment.
Patrolmen's Benevolent Association president Pat Lynch said his union is currently negotiating pay raises with City Hall and called the defections a "crisis" for the city.
"Other jurisdictions are using New York City as fertile recruiting grounds for their hiring," he said. "We're losing all the best and brightest. They can't afford to stay here. You have to pay them to be able to keep their families in this city."