More Cops Look To Flee

Markeshia Ricks PhotoAs many as 15 New Haven cops are looking to Yale to pull them away from the city’s ranks.

Yale’s police force has three, maybe four, current openings for patrol officers, according to Chief Ronnell Higgins. He said over 300 people have applied for those positions — including up to 15 New Haven police officers. (He didn’t have a precise number.)

New Haven Police Chief Anthony Campbell said he doesn’t blame them.

Just look at the numbers, he said. The city starts cops at $44,400, the lowest level in the state. Yale starts cops at $67,000, with better benefits; that starting salary is to rise to $76,300, with top patrol salaries at $96,000, according to Higgins. That’s more than any other department pays. Plus, Yale offers better benefits, including financial help buying homes in the New Haven and paying their kids’ college tuition.

So many New Haven cops were interested in applying that the rumor around 1 Union Ave. was that up to 100 had applied, he said. He noted that his cops are choosing between the lowest and the highest salaries in the state.

Campbell said he worries about a continuing shortage of New Haven cops, as his officers work under a contract that expired two years ago. A new contract is now the subject of binding arbitration; New Haven is making the case that it lacks the money to pay cops enough to compete with suburban departments. (Click here and here for previous stories about suburban departments’ success in luring city cops.)

The department has 495 budgeted positions. The number of filled positions is officially down to a little over 400, according to Campbell, but that figure is a “misnomer”: It includes more than 20 cops currently in the police academy, and others who are off the street on injured leave or administrative duty, or manning the formerly state-run prisoner lock-up.

And given the discouraging contract prospects, Campbell said, he envisions as many as 50 more cops leaving the department in coming months.

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posted by: Esbey on November 2, 2018  2:26pm

Cut the number of budgeted positions to 400, or slightly lower, then raise pay and benefits proportionately.  Do not increase defined benefit pension, although it would be OK to increase portable 401k style benefits.  Match the Yale housing deal, which will move officers into the city.

Having a large force with super-high turnover cannot be superior to having somewhat smaller and more stable force, can it?

posted by: observer1 on November 2, 2018  3:11pm

Nobody can blame a person for looking to change employers for better pay, benefits and working conditions. The only solution to retaining officers in New Haven is to give them a reason to stay. The incentive to not leave New Haven, is to offer pay and benefits comparable to the pay and benefits that the competition is offering.  This works if the employing entity is a company or municipality. Given the state of fiscal affairs in New Haven, the numbers probably will not work. Classic “Catch 22 definition,” a dilemma or difficult circumstance from which there is no escape because of mutually conflicting or dependent conditions.

posted by: AverageTaxpayer on November 2, 2018  3:19pm

Whoa. Sure starting salaries for NHPD are lower than they should be, (they got negotiated down at some point, so the fat cats higher up could keep their largesse.) But are tenured New Haven police really being paid less than their peers? Or is this just a handy talking point as the Police Union seeks to keep more?

I propose we quits using overtime and extra-duty in pension calculations, and that we use that savings to pay rookie officers a more competitive rate.

But my guess is those NHPD leaving for YPD are all young retirees, leaving in their 50’s, to get essentially paid double. (Once by Yale, and then another almost full salary from their “retirement” pension.)

posted by: JohnDVelleca on November 2, 2018  4:23pm

Again, I say to….never mind.  sigh

posted by: narcan on November 3, 2018  12:10am

I see no option in the poll to “adjust budget priorities to meet public safety needs”...New Haven is not broke; they make poor financial decisions.

Average, if the expired contract is to be believed, NHPD officers top out around $67k…or right around rookie starting pay for many other municipalities.

posted by: Knowthefacts on November 3, 2018  9:11am

Average taxpayer…before you make comments do some fact checking. The NHPD senior patrol officers are also the lowest paid. A senior patrol officer will make $30,000 less then a maxed out Yale officer. NHPD captains make less then a senior Yale patrol officer. NHPD officers make an average of $15,000 to 20,000 less then the towns that are near New Haven. And the contract which is public information will show you that OT and extra duty has not been part of the retirement plan for the last 5/6 classes. They get 40% of their base salary at 25 years. 25 years of service is the industry standard for cops and firefighters across the country. Also it was not 15 officers it was more like 50 that applied and it was a majority of officers with less then 5 years on the job.

posted by: JohnDVelleca on November 3, 2018  3:16pm

So, to summarize (again), the policing philosophy of the NHPD needs to evolve.  It has been the same since the early 1990’s when the crime problem in the city was much more challenging.  The philosophy of Community Policing through the use of the “Broken Windows” theory requires an inordinate amount of police officers to fill assignments such as walking beats, as well as a host of other “luxury” positions.  At the time, the strategy was implemented by a less than fiscally responsible Assistant Chief named Dean Esserman, maybe some have heard of him.  From the beginning, the strategies longevity was deemed financially unsustainable, but a lot of the required funding came through federal grants that don’t exist anymore.  This has left municipalities to absorb the exorbitant cost of this type of philosophy and deployment scheme.  Other municipalities have progressed and evolved, but New Haven refuses to face reality.  The thought of more police equaling less crime and being synonymous with community policing is simply wrong.  But, for some reason the city believes that lots of cops on walking beats has reduced crime, although crime has gone down nationwide for the past two decades and police chiefs all over have been shrinking the amount of sworn positions by refusing to fill vacancies caused by retirements, civilization and using technology.  So again I say, a revamp of the NHPD could work and the finances can be reallocated within the budget to provide officers with competitive pay and benefits.  But the fear of a smaller police force combined with a possible spike in crime (which most experts say is inevitable at this point) is too much for the city to bear.  However, as Paul Bass and I have been discussing for a while now, the police force will have to be adjusted, either voluntarily or involuntarily.  I think we are now seeing the latter as the force shrinks by default.

posted by: Corruptionisreal on November 4, 2018  7:38am

I love how Chief Campbell blames money as the reason these officers are leaving. Which just shifts blame to his boss Toni Harp. What he doesn’t tell you is how the department is in shambles. The egos of this insecure administration is out of control. They have accomplished nothing during their tenure other than ruining any moral that still remained. They attempt to lead through fear and bullying. Often trying to gain respect by discipline rather than example. As money is a large aspect to the job…working in a well rounded respectful environment is also necessary. That doesn’t exist in the New Haven Police Department. Grown adults acting like children looking to one up their superior to push their agenda and resumes. These are how our “leaders” lead. This is the real reason officers are leaving.

posted by: Howudoin on November 4, 2018  8:10am

There are no more walking beats. The dept has 2 Officers per district on C squad. Yes 2.
So to the retired guy, your speech doesn’t add up.
Call it what you want. There is a shortage of patrol officers.
Everyone’s leaving because take three times the amount of calls, maybe more, and get way less pay. It’s pretty simple. Get a fair contract or you will see more go.

posted by: opin1 on November 4, 2018  11:13am

Agree 100% with Esbey. Reduce the number of officers. Reduce the number of shifts.  Have a few less officers on the street. Pay the officers more.

posted by: JohnDVelleca on November 4, 2018  12:01pm


    You should start with stating your identity so we can all view your qualifications for judging my “speech.”  The revamping of the department doesn’t have much to do with walking beats, but I’d guess that the push to hire more cops does.  So holding those vacant positions in the budget, instead of shrinking the number of positions on that line while maintaining the funds to pay you a bit more, indicates that the city has every intention of filling those positions.  And, guess where they’ll be going genius?  That’s right, to walking beats.  However, there are numerous other “luxury” assignments that can be redeployed to the patrol division to help out.  Furthermore, I worked C Squad longer than you’ve been on the job and we always had two people per district.  In fact, superstar, I worked car 31 in the 1990’s ALONE many nights with one other unit in Hill north (Car 53, Greg Reid so you can check the details and confirm what I’m saying) with 40 calls in the HP at the beginning of the shift.  Try that for a little while.  Until then stop complaining because you don’t have a clue of what you’re talking about.  Or, drop your shield in the SC office and leave….

posted by: Howudoin on November 4, 2018  7:25pm

In all honesty, I can say I’m I’m with you on this for the most part.
I agree there are too many positions of non patrol personnel.
Too many units that do their own thing.
So when the public reads these articles they think we have tons of cops on any given beat.
If I read your, and I apologize for saying “speech” /article and I was not on the job, I would think New Haven has current walking beats and an over abundance of Officers.
And I know and obviously you know, that’s not so. But if I were a concerned citizen after reading that, I would think to myself, where are all these cops, I never see any of them.
So it gets frustrating. But adding to that I took the job knowing all the above, so I’m not going anywhere. Even with what the city offers now and pales in comparison to what prior Officers received. I’m doing this for love of the job so I’m not leaving. I’m a lifer from New Haven. I mean you must admit, comparing my pension to yours is an absolute joke. The city doesn’t even attempt to sweeten the pot.
Bottom line is that if Officers in this city received a fair contract like those prior, we wouldn’t even be having this discussion.
And also I will identify myself when I’m retired. I’m sure you understand.
Nothing personal brother.
Nothing but love.

posted by: JohnDVelleca on November 4, 2018  8:23pm


  When you guys complain that you’re not getting paid enough, I’m behind you because you’re not.  When you complain that the degradation of your health benefits is unfair, I’m with you because it is.  You guys will certainly be sick and injured more than the average person.  When you complain that you have to stay for 25 years and your pension has been reduced to rubble, I’m with you because it has been destroyed.  I think 20 years, especially if you spend it all on the second floor, will ruin you mentally and you’ll need to leave.  But do not EVER complain about working hard, you’re better than that.  The people in New Haven that call you for assistance have very little to do with the politics behind your salary, benefits and retirement.  They simply need your help and don’t need to hear complaints because they obviously have their own problems.  Remember, most of the people we visit on a daily basis don’t have anyone else to call and they depend on you, so don’t let them down.  And with me, it’s always love, loyalty and respect to my fellow NHPD officers, even when we rumble a bit.  I’ve always supported my cops even when it was to my detriment.  I’ve also had no problem letting them know when I thought they were out of line.  Keep in mind that your not a cop, you’re a New Haven cop; there’s a difference.  There is much pride in that shield and that title, so much so that we used to advertise it on our police cars.  If the young guys are leaving simply because it’s more money somewhere else, then they don’t get it and they’ve taken the job for the wrong reasons.  So, say goodbye and good riddance to them, then gear-up and get back to the grind, because that’s what WE do.  Be safe…

posted by: observer1 on November 5, 2018  8:33am

Let me first state that I am not a cop, nor have I ever been a cop, I have been a US Marine, and the analogy I would throw out here is that every marines job, regardless of rank or specialized training is primarily a rifleman, and can do the basic job of being a rifleman. We are all taught to be front line riflemen before we are taught anything else. From what I have read, the cops come out of the academy as front line trained cops. They then hone their skills paired with an FTO. Sort of like we do at advanced infantry training. In times of crisis, all marines; cooks, clerks, truck drivers become frontline infantry, and they do it well because they are trained well and the philosophy is embedded into their mentality. Part of their collective culture based on years of tradition.

I would do the same with every officer in the New Haven Police Department. Get them out of the office, off motorcycles primarily used for traffic and convert to patrol functions, out of the lockup, out of civies and hit the streets with a very visible presence. You instantly have more cops. The “other cops in other type jobs” become force multipliers. It is nice to have all of these specialized jobs, but not at the expense of customer service due the citizens of New Haven. You now need less cops, so you pay them more money with better benefits. I know all hands on deck is radical, but what you are doing is not working. Put people in or on vehicles and start responding to calls in a timely manner. You can have your rank structure in place on every shift, but make every office regardless of rank a patrol officer. Visibility and presence of the street. They can command from the street better than from the office. Again, I know little about policing, but a lot about what a few motivated marines are capable of.

posted by: JohnDVelleca on November 5, 2018  9:20am


  You are correct in your analysis.  You really don’t need to be a police officer to understand the situation.  It’s a management issue, not a policing issue.  Everything you’ve said is accurate and true.  However, there are some that attempt to avoid the field work, I’m sure in the USMC you’ve seen the same.  But, sometimes it’s “all hands on deck” and we all have to contribute.  There are ways to resolve this entire mess, but they’re not comfortable for some so the issue is avoided and excuses are made.  Politics drive the policing philosophy now at the NHPD and it seems the last person with input is the Chief of Police.  It should be the opposite, the Chief should set the mission and the officers should abide and further the effort, while the politicians handle the politics.  The officers should be detailed assignments that benefit the department and the community holistically, not allowed to choose where they’d like to work.  But that style of management is unpopular, so it won’t happen.  It’s true that New Haven cops are underpaid.  People may argue to the contrary, but they’re simply wrong.  However, money is a short term motivator, therefore until all the problems are fixed the money won’t matter as much as you think.

posted by: wendy1 on November 5, 2018  10:41am

Agree with Esbey.  Smaller happier force with good benefits and sane leadership would sure help and next election we need a mayor who listens to the cops.  We also need to stop rousting, herding, punishing the poor with threats, warrants, arrests, evictions, etc.  Our justice system needs an overhaul and that would lighten the load on cops.  Crap judges and prosecutors are a big problem here as well as crooked politicians.

posted by: jim1 on November 5, 2018  11:28am

Go where the best pay is and with benefit.

posted by: WereUthere? on November 5, 2018  3:12pm

Regardless of time and experience on the job. Plain and simple: NHPD currently has AWFUL pay AND benefits compared to the other (approximately) 91 municipal police departments in the State.

“Did you get on the job to get rich?”
“Why did you want to be a cop?” etc etc are the typical questions people (mainly bosses with better pensions) ask when thinking about leaving for another department.

Although money may not be the motivating factor when choosing a dream career, every person (NOT JUST COP) would like to have a career where they can at least support their family AND be able to have some type of financial stability after they retire. ESPECIALY for a job where he/she risks their life everyday .

So, my opinion is…go. Because at the end of the day. The current police contract in arbitration, even if the NHPD gets what they are asking for will NOT even cover the amount in which their medical costs have gone up.

The solution isn’t fighting for 3-5% in wages, (WHICH IS NOTHING BY THE WAY, NHPD IS PAID SO LOW THAT THEY WOULD STILL BE ONE OF THE LOWEST IN THE STATE). The solution is restructuring the pay scale for the department entirely.

For example,
New starting pay: $55K,
After probation: $68K
TOP Pay $80K

Make it SOMEWHAT competitive. Believe me any 093 reading this….fighting for these miniscule percentiles in raises is NOT THE ANSWER.

posted by: JohnDVelleca on November 5, 2018  4:14pm


Can’t argue with what you’ve presented, the facts speak for themselves and you’re correct with everything you’ve said.  Don’t get frustrated with your supervisors when they ask about your motivation to become a cop, it’s nearly the only argument they (we) can make and it’s a flawed one at best.  I feel for you young cops, I really do.  Your doing a tough job under fastidious scrutiny for pay and benefits that are well below the industry standard.  It’s difficult for me to accept what has become to the NHPD; it used to be the department cops transferred TO not FROM.  Such a shame, but I wish you guys well.  Make the decisions that are best for you and your families, just be careful making decisions based solely on money.  Good luck

posted by: challenge on November 5, 2018  6:13pm

Simple: If officers want to follow the dollar wish them well. Bring in people who love the job. If leadership is an issue within NHPD then seek a replacement who is a qualified and effective leader who can boost morale while assuring residents their safety is top priority.  Countless people enter into professions that don’t pay top dollar and they remain there because they love the work they are doing and the people they serve. Stop with the fear mongering worn out rhetoric that we need more cops to keep crime down. It diminishes your argument and credibility. Crime is down across the nation and has been for decades.

posted by: Dennis Serf on November 5, 2018  8:48pm

A few notes.

1. Over 300 people have applied for those positions — including up to 15 New Haven police officers. So, 15 out of 300 is 5%. So only 5% are from NHPD, and 95% are not. Sounds as though most police officers from most police departments would like to be a Yale Police Officer. The sky isn’t falling.

2. It would be nice to know where the current resources (whether its 400 or 380 or 350) are assigned and allocated. I’ve filed a FOIA with the NHPD to find out. It’s been 2 weeks and still no answer, which makes it APPEAR as though nobody really knows. If this were the private sector and a Board of Directors asked a CEO about staffing, and it took 2 weeks to get an answer, the CEO would be out the door. Here we have Chief Campbell asking for more resources but he can’t tell the residents of New Haven where the current 400 or 380 or 350 are staffed and when.

3. Most of the NHFD responses (I think the number is 80%) are for medical. We need more paramedics and fewer firemen. That’s indisputable at this point.  We ought to find out if we really need more police officers. It APPEARS as though we do. But we should look at the call data and ask how many of the calls require a response from a person with 6 months and $60K of training, and a gun. If anyone has the facts pertaining to number of calls and police response, I’d like to see it.

Dennis Serfilippi

posted by: NH Needs Help on November 7, 2018  11:42am

Yes, the officers are underpaid and that needs to be adjusted.
Yes, the officers go on too many calls unrelated to police work and too many calls related to medical issues.
Yes, the officers (the whole NHPD) morale is in the toilet.

We can only hope that all officers coming out of the academy, joined the NHPD for the right reasons, to “protect and serve” the City.  Then they come into the day-to-day reality of a broken department and veteran officers who are too negative to keep their initial enthusiasm for policing.

Delivery may have been less than perfect however, if you ever sat in on a COMSTAT meeting, Chief Esserman commanded accountability from every department and every officer.  To his credit, he also praised those who may have been worthy of praise which is something that was not reported.  Since his exit and the poor choice for replacement (another monumental mistake of this Mayor), the department has fallen apart consistently month after month.

Sadly I don’t see help for this department until the City says goodbye to this police chief and this mayor.

posted by: nosmo king on November 8, 2018  3:47pm

Just hire a bunch of new recruits and charge it to the mayors credit card.