The police department has postponed a detectives promotional exam because of an exodus of officers. The department needs the remaining cops on the street for now.
Asst. Chief Otoniel Reyes announced that news to the Board of Police Commissioners at its regular meeting Tuesday night at police headquarters. Reyes was filling in for Chief Anthony Campbell, who, he said, is in Israel receiving specialized training.
The commissioners at the meeting approved ten more retirements and three resignations, which brings the force to 389 officers — 106 vacancies below the department’s budgeted strength of 495. (Read about the exodus here.)
The decision is “prudent given the diminished number of officers on the street,” Reyes said.
Veteran officers are leaving in part because of fears that a new contract will significantly reduce retirement health benefits. Meanwhile, other departments are poaching younger officers by offering tens of thousands of dollars a year more in salary along with better benefits.
The cops have been working without a contract for two years. The police union recently overwhelmingly rejected the city’s last best offer. So the contract now goes before state arbitration, the first time that’s happened in four decades.
Commissioner Donald Walker asked when arbitration might be concluded.
“Not soon,” Reyes replied. He estimated at least six months and likely longer.
Reyes said the decision to postpone the exam was mandated by the need for manpower on patrol. “We don’t want to prevent the advancement of our officers,” he added.
Those officers whose retirements were formally approved at the meeting included Captain Patricia Helliger; Lt. Darcia Siclari; Lt. Elisa Tuozzoli; Sgt. Albert McFadden; Sgt Eric Scott; and Officers John Palmer, Leslee Witcher, Elvin Rivera, David Rivera, and Victor Herrera.
The resignations: Officer Leah Russo, Officer Kris Ramirez, and Detective Ross Van Nostrand.