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NYPD cops settling into Florida nicely

AP Photo/Frank Franklin II

Incoming New York City Mayor Eric Adams can’t get into office quickly enough when it comes to his pledge to restore law and order and beef up the NYPD. After eight long years of Bill de Blasio running the police into the ground, some of the officers aren’t waiting around to see if things are going to improve under Adams. Quite a few of them have continued to either take early retirement or simply quit the force and head out in search of greener pastures. And a bunch of them have already landed in a new home that’s far away from the Big Apple. In recent months, more than two dozen of New York’s finest have taken up residence – along with new employment – in Florida. And one city that’s benefitting from the exodus is Lakeland, where they launched an aggressive recruiting campaign to make room for the incoming NYPD officers. (NY Post)

More than a dozen NYPD cops have ditched the Big Apple to join the force in a small Florida city — part of a nationwide trend of disgruntled officers finding greener pastures in pro-police communities.

Lakeland — a community of 108,000 people 35 miles east of Tampa — mounted a social media campaign targeting NYC cops earlier this year, and in April dispatched a delegation to recruit in Times Square.

Fourteen former Finest moved to Lakeland in the past year — 12 of them wooed over the past two months thanks to the recruiting trip.

If you have to move somewhere to get away from New York City, Lakeland probably isn’t a bad choice. Back in the seventies, I attended my first Queen concert there and it seemed like a very nice area. Besides, despite everything you hear about the global climate crisis this year, winters in New York are still terrible. In Florida, you just need to watch out for hurricanes.

But the temperature isn’t the only “atmosphere” that’s attracting New York’s cops. One officer who made the move to Lakeland told the press that it was “an eye-opener” to see how much respect the police are shown in that city. He described how “it was almost like I was ashamed to be a law enforcement officer” in New York City these days.

Amazingly, the starting pay for police officers in Lakeland is more than $10,000 higher than it is in New York City. While the cost of living in Lakeland isn’t particularly low, it’s a lot better than in Manhattan. (The cost of living in Lakeland is below the national average.) On top of that, there are no municipal or state income taxes to pay down there, unlike the massive tax burden placed on New Yorkers. So for most of these cops, there’s a lot to like about making this move.

According to the National Association of Police Organizations, police in blue cities are increasingly migrating away to start new lives in places where law enforcement still has the respect and support of municipal government and at least more of the community than you see in places like Gotham. Is that really all that surprising? Some of the departing police described New York City as being a “hostile legal, social and political environment.” Not so in the Sunshine State.

And then there is Bill de Blasio’s vaccine mandate for all police officers, coming without an option to submit weekly negative COVID tests instead. You don’t see any of that in Florida under the leadership of Ron DeSantis. And plenty of these transferring cops are reportedly among the vaccine-hesitant.

So what’s the downside to this story? None, really, unless you happen to be one of the unfortunate souls still stuck in New York City. Your crime rates are still going up and your police are bailing out, mostly because of the crappy treatment they have received. That’s not a formula for an improving environment. Perhaps things will bounce back a bit under Eric Adams, but for a lot of the empty spots on the police roster, it will be too late. They’ll have to look to recruit new talent elsewhere.