Out of the nine police officers who just joined the Danbury Police Department in Connecticut, six are former NYPD officers.
Located about 70 miles north of New York City, not only is Danbury a town with little crime, but its department boasts a higher wage, too. The newly hired lateral transfers will $63,900 to $74,400 a year, according to the town’s job listing at PoliceApp.com. For comparison, NYPD’s starting salary is $42,500 and jumps to $85,292 after five and a half years.
However, the cost of living is also much lower in Danbury. According to Zumper.com, the average monthly cost of a one-bedroom apartment in New York City is $3,925. In Danbury, a one-bedroom unit costs on average $1,863.
With a population of 85,000 people, the town saw one murder and 97 violent crimes in 2019, the year with most recent available FBI data. New York City, on the other hand, reported 335 murders and almost 50,000 violent crimes the same year.
The story is just one example of how dramatically the NYPD is losing personnel, with thousands leaving before getting their pensions.
“It’s sad how people are going to small-town police departments to make more money,” a Brooklyn cop told the New York Post. “It’s embarrassing.”
Another veteran officer said he expects the trend of resignations to continue.
“There’s going to be a lot more [leaving] because they’ve been without a contract for seven years,” the officer said. He added that “morale is horrible” at the department.
He blamed management for the discontent, citing a recent directive to place stickers on work phones to prevent officers from using their personal phones on duty. He also criticized the city’s bail reform laws.
“Instead of [higher-ups] trying to help police, they’re worried about stickers on your phone,” the cop said.
“You lock somebody up, and they’re out the next day. What’s the purpose of being a police officer out here?”
Danbury Police Chief Patrick Ridenhour was “excited” about the new officers. He said that the hires are currently undergoing background checks.
“What we are doing right now is we are trying to tackle this from all ends, both through the entry level process and the certified process,” he told the Danbury News-Times.
To combat staffing and recruiting shortages, Ridenhour said Danbury was interested in bringing on certified officers from other states, as it shortens the training schedule time.
The NYPD transfers just need to “spend a few weeks on the street learning our streets, our systems, and then they are good to go.”
“We could get a certified officer from another state on the street within three months, as opposed to waiting seven months,” Ridenhour added.
Danbury currently has 142 officers, and aims to have 160 on the force.
On the other hand, it’s been a tough year for the NYPD in terms of retention and recruiting. The department has seen its largest number of resignations in two decades, with nearly 2,500 officers having filed to exit this year according to August pension fund stats.
“This exodus is the result of cops in the prime of their careers deciding they have had enough. … The NYPD should stop trying to explain this staffing crisis away. Admit there’s a problem and help us fix it,” NYPD Police Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch told the Post.