Report: Exodus of NYPD Cops Continues with Patrol Chief's Sudden Retirement
TEHRAN (FNA)- New York Police Department admitted that there is a "troubling trend" in officers leaving the force, as budget cuts, anti-police feeling and tensions within the city and its politicians drive many to quit.
This year, as of October 6, 2,385 officers have submitted their retirement papers, the NYPD told Fox News - an 87 percent increase last year.
In 2019, over the same period, 1,274 officers retired.
Resignations were also up. The department announced that 372 NYPD officers have resigned this year - five more than last year.
"The NYPD has seen a surge in the number of officers filing for retirement," a spokesperson said in an email to Fox News this week, adding, "While the decision to retire is a personal one and can be attributed to a range of factors, it is a troubling trend that we are closely monitoring."
As of this week, the department's headcount stood at just under 34,500, according to an NYPD spokesperson.
A troubled summer saw widespread protests in New York City with many calling for the defunding of the police, and a June cut of $1 billion to the NYPD's annual budget.
On Tuesday, one of the most high profile retirements was announced, with 41-year-old Fausto Pichardo, chief of patrol and the highest-ranking Hispanic officer on the force, stepping down, reportedly due to tensions with Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Police Commissioner Dermot Shea praised Pichardo for his service, telling Fox 5 that the department is also losing "a friend and a member of our blue family".
"Fausto, when I tabbed him last year to be the chief of patrol, I never hesitated for a second, and I never regretted the decision for a second," Shea stated, calling him a "consummate professional".
"Probably one of the most well-rounded individuals that we have. The total package. A huge loss and I wish him the best of luck," Shea continued.
Shea previously told PIX 11 that "putting it mildly ... I was surprised that he's leaving".
According to The Daily News, Pichardo had endured weeks of tension with the mayor, who has been deeply unpopular among the NYPD for years.
NYPD ranks are thinning to their lowest levels in nearly 10 years, it emerged last week.
June saw almost 400 retire from the force, with more than 400 every month in July, August and September.
Patrick Lynch, the leader of the Police Benevolent Association of the City of New York, said Pichardo's retirement was a result of political 'amateur-hour meddling' in the force.
He added the NYPD was "broken, almost beyond repair", noting, "Our top talent in all ranks is being driven out the door and public safety is suffering."
The final straw for Pichardo was reportedly after last week’s Orthodox Jewish protests in Borough Park, sources said.
Protests erupted when the area - home to a large Orthodox Jewish population - was placed under lockdown again, as COVID-19 infections spiked in the neighborhood, along with eight others.
Pichardo worked 36 hours straight, then went home to sleep and missed a call from the mayor, the sources added.
The mayor left what sources told Pix11 were "rude and unprofessional" messages.
When he woke up, he returned the call, and de Blasio summoned him to City Hall to give him a dressing down for not answering the phone, the sources said.
Shea, the NYPD commissioner, tried to get him to change his mind, sources told Pix11.
In the role, he oversaw a majority of the force's 22,000 uniformed police officers, who are assigned to each of the department's 77 precincts citywide.
"Chief Fausto Pichardo, the NYPD Chief of Patrol, filed for retirement on Tuesday, ending an accomplished more than two-decade long career in the New York City Police Department," the department announced in a statement.
His abrupt resignation on Tuesday afternoon caught many by surprise, and was greeted with sadness within the force.
Jerry Keane, a retired NYPD sergeant, tweeted, "Wow! @NYPDChiefPatrol Pichardo is a nice and well respected Boss."
"Big loss according to a few officers I've spoke to," stated John Seravalli, NYS Assembly Regional Coordinator.
Pichardo played a leading role in handling the police response to large protests in Borough Park last week, after Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced new restrictions on schools, businesses and houses of worship in areas where coronavirus infection rates have increased.
The majority of the areas facing lockdowns are home to large Orthodox Jewish populations, and religious leaders have complained of being singled out.
The spike in cases coincided with the back-to-back Jewish holidays in late September.
Cuomo said Sunday that the so-called cluster areas contain 2.8 percent of the state's population, yet have had 17.6 percent of all positive confirmed cases reported this past week.
The Democratic governor urged people living in those areas to abide by the restrictions even though the new rules ban large gatherings in synagogues.
The violent protests resulted in Pichardo working 36-hours straight, and his subsequent confrontation with the mayor.
"Chief Pichardo, 41, was the first Chief of Patrol of Dominican heritage in NYPD history and has worked tirelessly in recent months to guide the men and women in uniform through a series of challenging issues that have strained the city and the agency," he added.
Pichardo was born in the Dominican Republic and moved to New York when he was nine.
He grew up on the Lower East Side at a time when the neighborhood was considered one of the most dangerous places in the city.
He joined the department in July 1999 and rose quickly through the ranks, eventually becoming the precinct commander at the 33rd police precinct in Washington Heights, then commanding officer of the 43rd Precinct in the Soundview section of the Bronx.
Pichardo was named chief of patrol in December 2019.
"I'm proud to represent Dominicans, Latinos, immigrants, my family. It's what really makes me proud, having this tremendous opportunity," he noted, according to Pix11.
De Blasio, the 59-year-old leader of America's largest city, will step down next year at the end of two terms.
He has long had a strained relationship with the police, dating back to his campaign when he pledged to reform the city's stop-and-frisk practices, which the police credited for a decrease in crime but detractors said was institutionalized racial profiling.
In July 2014 he was confronted with the first major challenge of his term, when Eric Garner was killed by a policeman on Staten Island.
Daniel Pantaleo, who killed Garner in a chokehold, remains a New York police officer. The state of New York did not charge him, and the Department of Justice investigated the case and declined to bring charges.
De Blasio was muted on the issue, and maintains it is a matter for the NYPD.
Two police officers were murdered in December 2014 in response to the death of Garner - the first officers to die in the line of duty since 2011.
Many within the force felt that de Blasio did not speak out to defend the NYPD, in the wake of Garner's killing.
Police turned their backs on de Blasio at the Brooklyn hospital where the bodies were being kept. Many more echoed the gesture at Wenjian Liu's funeral the following weekend.
In February this year, when police were shot at in the Bronx, de Blasio tweeted his outrage at the violence — claiming the shootings were an attack not only on police but "on ALL New Yorkers and everything we believe in".
The police union, the Sergeants Benevolent Association, replied by "declaring war".
"Mayor DeBlasio, the members of the NYPD are declaring war on you!" the SBA tweeted, adding, "We do not respect you, DO NOT visit us in hospitals. You sold the NYPD to the vile creatures, the 1% who hate cops but vote for you. NYPD cops have been assassinated because of you."
"This isn't over, Game on!" the SBA announced.
Tensions have only increased with this summer's $1 billion cut to the NYPD's annual budget.
Pat Lynch, the president of the Police Benevolent Association of the City of New York, said that the loss of officers and budget cuts puts the city's residents in danger.
"Thanks to the City Council and Mayor's "Defund the Police" lunacy, no help is coming any time soon," he continued, adding, "Our elected leaders need to be held responsible for the dangerous path they've chosen."
The demands on the NYPD are only increasing.
Officers have been told to prepare for more protests ahead of the presidential election and as Judge Amy Coney Barrett's Supreme Court confirmation hearings begin, according to an internal memo.
Officers have been told to report for duty in uniform and "be prepared for deployment" from October 25 with demonstrations expected to 'grow in size, frequency, and intensity' in the run up to November 3, the note says.
It warns police should anticipate unrest into the new year.
In the memo, obtained by The New York Post, officers are warned, "This November 3rd will be the one of the most highly contested presidential elections in the modem era."
"There is also a strong likelihood that the winner of the presidential election may not be decided for several weeks. Accordingly, we should anticipate and prepare for protests growing in size, frequency, and intensity leading up to the election and likely into the year 2021," they are warned.