NYPD eliminating weekends off for majority of cops

From all the talk coming out of City Hall about defunding and “reforming” the NYPD, you’d think that things are going swimmingly out on the streets of New York. Of course, if that were the case, why are the cops restructuring their work schedules and putting the majority of their officers back out on the beat on weekends? Something doesn’t add up here. But that’s precisely what the Police Commissioner is doing according to a report out yesterday from the New York Post. And not all of the officers are thrilled with the news.

NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea has ordered sweeping changes to police schedules that will ruin weekends for a lot of cops, The Post has learned.

The changes are meant to beef up weekend staffing during a spike in shootings and sometimes violent protests and will affect all uniformed officers under the rank of sergeant who currently have both Saturdays and Sundays off, according to an internal memo obtained by The Post.

One-third of those cops will keep their prized weekends, according to the memo.

The first two things that crossed my mind when first looking at the story involved both the NYPD budget and the resiliency of the cops. As to the first factor, the city just decided to slash a billion dollars out of the NYPD’s budget. How would they afford the sort of overtime bills that they’ll be running up if more than half of the cops are working weekends?

The second, even more alarming factor is the effect that a schedule like that would have on our police officers. How long can anyone work without a day off before stress and exhaustion set in? That’s particularly true of people who have to kiss their families goodbye every day while not know if they’ll be alive to come home for dinner. Endless overtime may be good for the paycheck, but it takes a toll on you in other ways.

Neither of those issues are as much of a concern as I’d initially feared, however. This new plan doesn’t have two-thirds of the police working seven days a week without a break. What they plan to do is have a significant portion of one-third of the police who are below the rank of sergeant working from Sunday through Thursday, while many from a second group will work Tuesday through Saturday. They’ll still have a “weekend” off, but it just won’t be Saturday and Sunday for many of them.

They’re doing this in response to a severe increase in shootings, murders and other forms of violent crime. Many of these crimes take place on weekends when police coverage is lighter. The gang members may be criminals, but they’re not stupid. (Well.. not all of them, anyway.) By spreading out the coverage on the streets a bit more, it’s hoped that they’ll be able to begin getting a handle on this crime spike which has persisted all through the protests and riots and still shows no signs of slowing down significantly.

This isn’t going to be popular with everyone on the force. I work a Saturday through Wednesday schedule myself, so I’m familiar with unconventional hours, but I’m not a cop and we’re not raising children. For a lot of families, missing out on half of the weekend where most family downtime opportunities happen is a real sacrifice. It’s easier to put up with if it’s just extra hours and you’re getting paid overtime for it, but this will be the “new normal” of scheduling for the police for the foreseeable future.

We already have New York City police officers retiring at record rates, with others simply quitting to look for new work elsewhere. This change will probably be the straw that breaks the camel’s back for some of those who are sticking it out and we’ll wind up losing even more experienced officers. Something needs to be done about this situation and the only viable solutions will likely involve hiring more police and increasing their budget rather than slashing it. And even that might not be enough.

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