The New York Police Department saw a 75 percent increase in officers who quit or filed for retirement in 2020 over the number of officers who quit or retired in 2019, according to data reported by the New York Post on Saturday.
In total, the NYPD saw 2,600 officers quit the job and another 2,746 file for retirement, for a combined 5,346 leaving or planning to leave the force. In 2019, 1,509 officers quit and 1,544 more who filed for retirement, for a total of 3,053 who chose to leave the force that year.
The approximate 5,300 officers leaving the NYPD represent about 15 percent of the department’s force. With the number of cops that have left after 2020, the department has seen the overall headcount drop from 36,900 at the end of 2019 to 34,974 as of April 5. So far this year, 831 officers have left the NYPD.
Joseph Giacalone, a retired NYPD sergeant and adjunct professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, blamed an anti-cop environment for the rise in the number of officers leaving the department.
NYPD data shows the largest spike in officers quitting or requesting retirement in 2020 came in the days after the Minnesota police-involved killing of George Floyd on May 25, 2020. In the month between May 25 and June 24, 272 uniformed officers submitted retirement paperwork.
“Cops are forming a conga line down at the pension section and I don’t blame them,” Giacalone told the New York Post. “NYPD cops are looking for better jobs with other departments or even embarking on new careers.”
Within days of Floyd’s death, protests and riots spread throughout the country. On May 30 a woman was arrested after allegedly hurling what police believe was a molotov cocktail incendiary device at a marked and occupied police van with four officers inside. In July, NYPD Chief Terence Monahan was among several NYPD members attacked by demonstrators during a planned unity march across the Brooklyn Bridge.
Giacalone also said the New York City Council’s plans to eliminate qualified immunity for the NYPD — without which it will be easier to sue officers for allegedly violating civil rights — will turn the job of policing into a “minefield.”
The New York City Council voted in March to change city code to eliminate qualified immunity. Reacting to the vote, former NYPD Commissioner Bernard Kerik said, “No police officer should work in a jurisdiction where they do not have the support of those they work for. Beginning today, I will no longer recommend young people consider the NYPD as a career.”
Police Benevolent Association President Pat Lynch told the New York Post, “The Mayor and City Council are absolutely trying to abolish the police. They’ve kept our pay absurdly low. They’ve ratcheted up our exposure to lawsuits. They’ve demonized us at every opportunity. And they’ve taken away the tools we need to do the job we all signed up for, which is to keep our communities safe.”