NEW YORK (WABC) -- The size of the NYPD is shrinking at a time when crime has become a major issue in New York City.
More than 1,400 NYPD officers have quit their jobs this year, according to the NYPD's Police Benevolent Association.
"Right then and there that says there's a problem," PBA President Patrick Lynch told Eyewitness News investigative reporter Kristin Thorne in a sit-down interview Monday at the PBA headquarters in Lower Manhattan.
The number of officers who quit the force has been rising steadily since 2019, according to the Police Pension Fund, and nearly doubled between 2020 and 2021 with 465 officers quitting in 2020 and 888 quitting in 2021. So far this year, 1,426 officers have quit - four times as many compared to 2015.
Lynch said many officers are choosing to go to other police departments which pay more, including the MTA Police, New York State Troopers and to departments in Westchester and on Long Island.
In Suffolk County, for example, the PBA said officers make 76% more than NYPD officers.
According to the Suffolk County Police Department, out of the 380 officers who joined the department in the last year, 111 had prior NYPD experience.
"What we need to do is what other police departments are doing," Lynch said. "Investing in their police officers."
Lynch slammed the plan by New York City and the state to have NYPD officers work more overtime to combat subway crime. He said the reliance on overtime should signal to administrators the existence of a manpower problem.
"The question you have to ask is, where are those police officers coming from that are now surging into the subway?" he said. "They're coming from our neighborhood precincts, which are already short-staffed."
Lynch said some officers, especially transit officers, are already working 60 hours of overtime every month.
"That has an effect on the individual police officer as well," he said. "We need decompression time."
Lynch said officers are also leaving the NYPD because of overtime requirements and are going to other departments that are better staffed and have more regular schedules.
According to the Police Pension Fund, 1,628 officers have retired this year, bringing the total attrition number of NYPD officers for 2022 to 3,054.
The NYPD said, "The NYPD regularly monitors attrition and plans accordingly to address the loss of officers who retire or leave the department for a variety of reasons. On Wednesday, the NYPD hired 600 individuals who have already begun their training at the Police Academy."
The 600 officers, however, cover half of the 1,170 uniformed positions cut in the city's 2021 budget following the defund the police movement.
The chief of the department alluded to the staffing issues in an October 7 press conference on crime statistics.
Chief Kenneth Corey said the NYPD has 9,000 fewer officers than it did in 2001, yet officers have been making the same number of "high-quality arrests."
For the last several years, the NYPD has had a headcount below the amounted budgeted by the city. The PBA estimates the department is currently short about 1,000 officers.
The PBA also said that the COVID-19 vaccine mandate was one factor cited by some members who quit the job.
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