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The NYPD Has Its Own Scandinavian Welfare State

Issue 256

The ruling class rewards its cops with pay and benefits that are inconceivable for most 21st century working stiffs.

John Tarleton Jun 5

Being a cop is a pretty shitty job. Harassing, bullying and lording yourself over the people you ostensibly “serve and protect” is no one’s idea of fun unless you’re a sadist. And lord knows the NYPD attracts a fair number of those. But what motivates the rest to stick around and make a career out of such a lousy line of work? The pay. The benefits. And a pension that most 21st century American workers would find inconceivable.

Think of it as affirmative action for bullies.

Starting annual pay for an NYPD officer is only $42,000 but it quickly soars to $85,000 after five and a half years on the force. With abundant opportunities for overtime, that can boost annual pay to over $100,000 per year. Higher-ranking members of the force fare even better. Officers also qualify for full medical coverage, full prescription, vision and dental coverage, unlimited sick pay and 26 days of paid vacation per year. 

But it’s the pension plan that provides the golden handcuffs that bind any would-be rebel to his or her job. NYPD officers can retire after 22 years on the force and receive half their annual pay every year for the rest of their lives. The pension formula is based in part on average pay during the final three or five years on the force when an officer will try to rack up as much overtime as they can get. 

Mass protest movements like Occupy and Black Lives Matter annoy the fuck out of cops — the long hours, the disrespect from many demonstrators, their refusal to follow orders or be in awe of authority. But truth be told, mass protest movements are also a windfall for police officers in the final stages of their careers. 

As Joe Biden would say, here’s the deal. Most NYPD officers retire in their mid-40s. If they live to be 80, they will collect close to $2 million in pension payments on top of the roughly $2 million they earn during their active-duty years. That’s $3.5 to $4 million in lifetime earnings, plus all the non-cash benefits for 22 years of work. For the white-shirted commanders who love to throw protesters around like rag dolls, it’s far more. 

Would you make the trade-off? Twenty-two of the best years of your life spent as a cop in return for a lifetime of economic security? For many, the terms are irresistible. In 2019, the NYPD had 36,038 active officers on payroll plus another 53,441 retirees and beneficiaries.   

Think of it as affirmative action for bullies; a Scandanavian-style welfare state for a warrior caste deeply committed to its mission — suppressing the lower classes to keep the city safe and profitable for market-rate real estate and its occupants.  

No public servant lives as high on the hog as New York’s Swinest.

When we defund the NYPD’s bloated budget, we are able to invest more resources in our communities while making life safer for those who don’t want to die while living black.

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