Seattle tries to woo local cops

April 4, 2008 5:00:48 PM PDT
There is a potentially large problem brewing for the NYPD. The department, which has had a difficult time recently recruiting officers because of it's low pay, is now being forced to compete with the Seattle, Washington Police Department.

Seattle is now advertising in the city, trying to lure away New York cops.

Eyewitness News reporter Stacey Sager has the story.

A giant blue billboard on the West Side Highway is pretty hard to miss. And the Seattle Police Department is banking on it. calling a career as a cop in Seattle, "A job like no other." And Seattle would like nothing more than to convince cops in Big Apple to come to the Emerald City instead.

"When the billboard went up, we got 169 hits on our Seattle police jobs Web site," Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske said. "When you compare our benefits and our salary, Seattle is a pretty attractive place to be."

"It's a wise move on the part of Seattle," said Patrick Lynch, of the Patrolmens' Benevolent Association. "It's an unwise move on the part of New York City not to pay us."

The police union in New York City complains that this latest recruiting effort is part of much bigger problem, that already, scores of NYPD officers are leaving to join other departments across the country.

"Why?" Lynch asked. "Because at top pay, every one of those departments are paying $20,000 to $40,000 more."

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly has been critical of the department's starting salary for cops. It's only $25,000 a year, a salary imposed by an arbitration panel in 2005, after the city and the police union couldn't agree on a contract. Meanwhile, in Seattle, the starting salary for cops is more than $47,000 a year. And the cost of living is 20 percent less than in New York.

And there's something else that's appealing about the Seattle police job. You can take the test right here in the city at NYU. And so far, Seattle recruiters say at least 20 city cops have signed up for it.

The end result is that New York stands to lose even more of its finest, while cities like Seattle will gain cops with good experience. They are officers who say they are tired of working more than one job to make a living, as the arbitration over their city contract continues.