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(NEW YORK)– Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell welcomed the first police officers to work a new flexible schedule as the department attempts to increase morale and slow an exodus of veteran officers.

Sewell addressed the officers at Wednesday morning’s roll call at the 47th Precinct in the Bronx, selected as one of the first to allow officers to work the extended tours — a quality of life initiative that emerged from recent contract negotiations with the Police Benevolent Association.

Sewell told the officers — the first to be on a 12 hour tour — that the schedule brings “more time with your family and friends with no compromise to public safety.”

The flexible schedule comes amid a mass exodus of veteran officers retiring or taking jobs at other departments for better pay and benefits. The department is experiencing high overtime costs as the rest of the force picks up the slack with extra hours.

“We recognize that you coming to work and then being told you have to stay extra hours is a hardship. You have families. You have things in your lives that matter that you want to get back to,” Sewell said.

“We look forward to making sure this works best for you, and we look forward to broadening it to the rest of the NYPD.”

The pilot is also a way to address most NYPD officers’ inability to work from home, a discrepancy with other employees that emerged during the pandemic.

PBA President Pat Lynch called the flexible schedules “a historic moment.”

“Many folks said no. Most administrations wouldn’t even talk about it. This administration would. This commissioner said yes. For the next generation of the NYPD, this will become the norm,” Lynch said. “You can live your life better. Its important we talk about your home life. Its important we talk about the mental health of each and every one of you and your family. Well, today is the start of that real discussion. but more importantly, the real solution.”

Under a six-month pilot program, about 400 officers will work longer 10- and 12-hour tours, with more days off.

Under the 12-hour shift option, officers work three days on and three days off within the NYPD’s scheduling framework.

In the 10-hour option, officers would work 10-hour shifts for four days, followed by two days off.

Officers based in the Bronx — in the 45th and 47th precincts and in Transit District 11 and Public Service Area 8, which serves city housing projects in the 43rd, 45th and 47th precincts — are participating in the pilot program. If the program works, the city hopes to expand it.

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