Governor Hochul’s Historic Opportunity to Bring Equality and Greater Diversity to State’s Forgotten Police Agencies
The PBA of New York State (PBANYS) respectfully calls on Governor Hochul to seize this historic opportunity to promote diversity in law enforcement by enacting their 20-year retirement legislation. Governor Hochul’s laudable goals of greater multicultural diversity in law enforcement, including achieving 30% female representation by 2030, are at risk by pension inequality that continues to drive officers – particularly diverse and female officers away from state service to municipal agencies that offer superior compensation and a better retirement.
The Governor’s goals, as well as the safety of New York’s natural resources, public university campuses, and historic sites are imperiled by the mass exodus of these highly specialized officers and recruitment shortfalls resulting from an antiquated and unequal 25-year pension.
“The Governor has an historic opportunity to help us recruit and retain more women within our ranks, said Nancy Ganswindt, PBA of New York State Vice President. “For too long our agencies have lost officers, including highly qualified women, to departments offering better compensation and benefits. The 20-year retirement and 30×30 Initiative will reverse that by showing women and diverse individuals that law enforcement is a career in which you can both serve your community and provide a financially secure future for your families.”
James McCartney, President of the PBA of New York State, added, “For the fourth year in a row the state legislature has passed our 20-year retirement parity legislation with near unanimous bi-partisan support. Environmental groups across the state support this critical legislation, as do the SUNY Chancellor, state agency commissioners, and fellow law enforcement agencies. In fact, the groups which normally oppose bills with budgetary impact have not raised concerns because they recognize the savings to the state by stemming the mass exodus of officers. Rarely do so many diverging interests come together to support an issue.”
Nilsa Torres, life partner of PBANYS member Troy Caupain, shared, “PBANYS families have the same concerns as every other law enforcement family – that their loved one might not return home at the end of their shift. Our members enforce the same laws, face the same dangers, respond to calls alongside municipal and state officers from other agencies, and bring additional specialized skills to the table that safeguard New Yorkers while often entailing additional risk for the officer. They do so knowing that they will need to work an additional five years beyond what the officers they serve alongside are required to do. Our families shouldn’t be treated differently than other state and local police agencies, they deserve the same peace of mind and security that comes from having a 20-year retirement option.”
From safeguarding public university campuses to facilitate the free exchange of ideas, to protecting our natural resources and enforcing environmental safety laws to promote environmental justice within urban communities that disproportionately suffer from pollution, our members protect the public in ways not commonly associated with law enforcement. Our focus on community policing is what sets us apart and reinforces why we cannot lose these highly experienced and specialized officers to agencies where their unique skillsets and experience will be lost to the people of New York state.
Time and again, when New Yorkers are in their hour of need, the members of PBANYS have been called upon – and every time they’ve risen to the occasion. From the deadly winter storms of 2022 to the torrential rains and floods of this past spring, officers from the State Park Police, University Police, Environmental Conservation Police, and Forest Rangers left their families behind to serve and protect New Yorkers.
When more than 80 million people visit New York State Parks each year they do so under the watchful eyes of the Park Police who are there not only to protect the public, but to enhance their experience. Hikers and hunters alike safely commune with nature knowing that Forest Rangers and Environmental Conservation Officers will come to their aid when needed.
Millions of State University of New York students, faculty, and staff live, learn, and earn in safety thanks to our State University Police Officers who strive to keep the dangers of the world off our state campuses.
PBANYS stands ready to continue working with Governor Hochul to ensure that the community focused policing that our member agencies are renowned for endures. We are asking the Governor to support our shared goals by providing our members with pension parity so that the officers who have committed themselves to these specialized missions and protecting these unique communities can afford to continue to do so while ensuring the financial security of their own families. Together we will continue to reimagine policing in New York State and ensure New Yorkers’ safety remains paramount for generations. It is a legacy worth fighting for.