Deteriorating working conditions and strong economy may be to blame“There is something that is making people like me, who should be the future of this job, leave,” said NYPD Police Captain John Murolo. Whatever that “something” is, management better find and eliminate it soon as senior officers across the nation leave the job in droves, taking their experience with them. “It’s much more difficult to be a precinct commander today than it was years ago,” Murolo continued. “You are held accountable for everything and the hours that the process stole from my family absolutely impacted my decision.” Commanders in New York City are subject to demotion and transfers based on their ability to effectively demonstrate crime-reduction. But it’s not just the Big Apple where senior officers are jumping ship- the phenomenon is nation-wide. Early retirement plans, a booming economy that can support second career attempts by retirees, and a growing morale problem are believed to be driving the changes. In New York City, the number of senior officers seeking early retirement has more than doubled in less than a year. “Among captains, the mind-set used to be 40 and out,” said John Driscoll, president of the Captain’s Endowment Association. “But the mind-set now is 20 and out, because the morale level is so perceptively different that, given an opportunity to leave, they go.” Tom Scotto, president of the Detectives Endowment Association of New York City, the union that represents 5000 NYPD detectives said, "In a year and a half I expect to lose most of the senior investigators. These are the premier investigators, the ones with the most experience. You can't replace those guys." One thing that may be accelerating the problem is the policy of holding precinct commanders responsible for producing reductions in crime, something many experts believe may be impossible. Another problem has been the NYPD’s inability to negotiate a mutually acceptable contract with the Giuliani administration. The present contract there were zero increases for the first two years. Cynthia Brown is the publisher of American Police Beat.