Is The NYPD Holding Officers Hostage?
(New York- WABC, December 9, 2005) (WABC) -- New York City Police Officers are speaking out tonight.
They are upset, claiming the department is keeping them hostage by failing to release their personnel information to prospective employers.
The Investigators Sarah Wallace joins us now with this hot button issue.
It just so happens the employment information that's being withheld by the NYPD is being requested by the Port Authority, which pays its police officers a lot more money.
Hundreds of cops have bolted there over the past few years and many more are trying to go now.
These two NYPD officers say they love police work, they just want to change uniforms and join the Port Authority Police Department.
Officer: "For a better salary and better quality of life for me, myself, and my family."
Another officer: "Why should I stay when I can work somewhere else for $30 to $35,000 more?"
The officers, both who've carried badges for nearly five years, say they were stunned to receive a letter days ago from the Port Authority claiming its investigators quote:
"Have been unable to gain complete and verifiable information about your current employment. as a result of this incomplete aspect of the investigation process, your candidacy is hereby deferred."
So far, more than 50 officers have received this letter and there could be dozens more who will.
NYPD officials maintain they are no longer releasing personnel files because of liability and privacy issues.
Officer: "I don't think it's a privacy issue. I actually signed a waiver to release all of my information and even with that, they won't release my information."
Another officer: "They basically own us."
Port Authority police sources say it's no coincidence the NYPD's personnel crackdown followed a mass exodus of hundreds of cops accepted into the PA starting in 2003.
Officer: "They don't want us to leave, so they are forcing us to stay, holding us hostage."
A Port Authority spokesman told us: "Obviously, job history information is an important tool in determining the best candidate for a job. It's especially critical when hiring police officers who are protecting the public."
These cops note the NYPD is losing huge numbers of officers to retirement and also to resignations -- up 30 percent this year over last.
Officer: "In my precinct alone, at least six people left for other agencies."
Another officer: "They say there is not a retention problem but I do believe there is a retention problem. It doesn't look good, so many, to see so many officers leave the job for better and bigger things."
A Port Authority source says there are about 1300 applicants for the new class -- including many from law enforcement.
The only problem has been getting personnel information from the NYPD.
Interestingly, we've been told the FBI and Secret Service trying to hire NYPD cops have also run into similar information roadblocks.
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