New York police officers are complaining that a new crackdown on minor infringements such as drinking coffee on the job and long beards is contributing to the city’s historic shortage of officers.
The New York Police Department (NYPD) recently introduced a Professional Standards Bureau, which some say is fostering low morale in the force, the New York Post reported.
The bureau enforces strict regulations, including that officers do not drink coffee on the job, grow their beards past the departmental limit of one-quarter of an inch, or “fail to comb their hair properly”.
The section is tasked with investigating improprieties such as officers who keep inaccurate memo books, tint their windows too dark on their personal cars or turn up for a detail without their hats, an NYPD spokesman said.
Those who break the rules face internal write-ups that could lead to lost holiday time – usually five to 10 days depending on the infraction.
“It’s pathetic, everybody’s talking about it,” one Brooklyn cop, a 20-year veteran, told the Post. “Guys are saying they’ve never seen morale so bad. The attitude is [the bosses] want to get you for something. Why would you go above and beyond to do anything at this point?”
The push comes at a time when the NYPD is facing major staffing issues.
The department roster of 33,822 uniformed cops is already 1,208 below the budgeted headcount.
During January and February of this year, 239 officers resigned – a 36 per cent spike from the 176 who left during the same span in 2022. It is also 117 per cent higher than 2021’s numbers, according to NYPD pension data.
Patrick Lynch, president of the Police Benevolent Association, said the new inspections will only worsen the crisis.
“It is absolutely mindboggling that monitoring beard length and sock colour are the NYPD’s top priorities right now,” Mr Lynch told the Post.
“New York City police officers can’t pay their bills. They never get to see their families. They are battling every day against perps who have no fear and a justice system that delivers no consequences,” he added.
The NYPD normally counts around 35,000 serving officers, making it the largest police force in America.
Anti-police hostility following the police killing of black man George Floyd, bail reform that sees criminals spared prison, cuts to funding, and rising city crime have fed into frustration among the NYPD rank-and-file.
Eric Adams, the Democrat mayor and a former police captain, was elected on an anti-crime, pro-police platform.
However, the data show every crime category apart from murders and shootings has shown an increase over the past two years.