Hundreds of NYC correction officers are jumping ship to the NYPD

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NY POST | Larry Celona, Kevin Sheehan, Nolan Hicks and Bruce Golding

City correction officers are so desperate to escape their jobs in the Big Apple’s jails that hundreds have recently joined the NYPD, The Post has learned — as even the Department of Correction’s commissioner conceded that morale is “very low.”

The newest class of 555 NYPD recruits that was sworn in during a ceremony Thursday at the Police Academy contained 42 former correction officers, a law-enforcement source familiar with the matter said.

Asked about the exodus on Sunday, which comes amid violent anti-cop protests and the progressive “defund the police” movement, DOC head Vincent Schiraldi acknowledged that he has his work cut out for him in making his employees look forward to clocking in.

“Morale at the Department of Correction is very low,” Schiraldi, who was named commissioner just last month, told The Post during a candid phone interview. “It’s been a month and I think I’m playing to reasonably good reviews. But there’s no switch you pull on the wall that all of a sudden makes people happy to come to work.”  

Among those guards making the jump to the NYPD in its most recent academy class was Tyliek Dyches, 28, who joined the DOC in June 2017 and worked on Rikers Island.

Dyches said he learned that he’d been accepted by the NYPD on June 28 while vacationing in Miami, and he immediately headed to Rikers to empty out his locker when his flight home landed July 5.

“My last day I worked before I went on vacation, I went into a triple [shift]. And I’m like, ‘Are you kidding me? My last day before vacation?’” he told The Post.

“So, I walked in there and I walked out with a big garbage bag! And I had my own personal parade going over the bridge!”

Dyches celebrated by posting an online video clip of himself driving past the infamous jail complex in his convertible, with a black plastic trash bag full of his belongings visible in the rear seat.

“I QUIT!!!!!!!!” a banner across the screen said, along with a raised-middle-finger emoji.

Dyches said that “about 15 to 20 people I worked with left corrections and are in the NYPD right now.”

“The bad part about working at Rikers — I’ll be honest with you — it’s not the inmates,” he said.

“It’s the administration. They’re not backing us up and officers are getting hurt.”

Dyches added: “We know that we can get hurt from inmates but it’s getting hurt from inmates and getting hurt from the administration that makes it such a tough job.”

His remarks came one day after the correction officers union boycotted Mayor Bill de Blasio’s ticker-tape parade for the “Hometown Heroes” of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a full-page ad published in Wednesday’s print edition of The Post, Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association President Benny Boscio Jr. accused the DOC of “gross mismanagement and sheer negligence” that he said led to more than 1,700 jailers getting infected — nine fatally.

Schiraldi told The Post on Sunday that he believed that pandemic contributed significantly to the low morale now plaguing his department.

“We’re coming out of a pandemic and I think in all fairness [working] in a correction facility — in a forced proximity — with a lot of people who are medically vulnerable is a scary thing,” he said. “People did get sick and some people died. So I think that none of that helps.

“But we’re coming back. The department is going to come back,” he vowed. “I think within the next months, you’re going to see more people coming back to work and people happier with their workplace. … There’s going to be some people, for sure, that their frustration runs pretty deep and it will take a while.”

Likely among them is one veteran correction officer who told The Post, “This is the worst job in the world.”

“We come into work and we don’t know when we are going home. It is not uncommon to work three of four shifts in a row,” the source said.

“One officer works where there is supposed to be two, and that leads to a lot of unnecessary fights and injuries.”

Schiraldi acknowledged that guards are sometimes asked to pull triple shifts, calling the practice “terrible.”

“I can see why it hurts morale,” he said. “Can you imagine working three shifts there? That’s priority number one, that’s tied for safety with priority. People need to feel safe and they need to feel that when they come to work, they’re going to get to go home from work in a reasonable amount of time and they don’t feel that way now.”

Even inmate David Mordukhaev mocked the department’s dysfunction, leaving behind a note taunting guards for not checking his cell thoroughly enough before escaping the Vernon C. Bain Correctional Facility barge in The Bronx overnight Friday into Saturday.

The alleged burglar was later re-captured in Brooklyn.

The DOC’s long-standing issues — deemed “systemic and deep-seated,” and indicative of a “pervasive level of disorder and chaos” by a federal monitor in May — must be unbearable if guards are jumping ship to the NYPD, one Manhattan cop suggested.

“I can’t imagine how bad Rikers is, because morale in the NYPD is the lowest I have seen in almost 20 years,” said the source. “I couldn’t imagine quitting a job to come here.”

Correction officers are paid a slightly higher starting annual salary — $43,333 — than NYPD cops, who earn $42,500 their first year, according to information posted on the city’s website.

After five and a half years, their salaries are the same, $85,292.

With overtime and other additional payments, including holiday pay and longevity pay, “police officers may potentially earn over $100,000 per year,” according to the city.

But correction officers earn $99,073 in salary and other payments — without overtime and “specialty pay.”

The 42 correction officers who entered the Police Academy on Thursday exceeded the 34 in the class of 450 recruits that was sworn in on April 21, a source said.

Last year, there were 119 correction officers in three graduating classes, and there were 129 in the four classes that graduated in 2019, the source said.

Schiraldi said that DOC is working to bring in its own new class of recruits and improve its workplace experience — while asking its current guards to keep the faith.

“We have to do a combination of things. It’s like peeling an onion,” he said. “One thing is we have to look our staff straight in the eye and say, ‘If you’re calling in sick or if you’re AWOLing and you’re not sick … come to work and support your brothers and sisters in uniform.’ That’s part of it.

“Part of it is we’re going to be bringing on a new class of 400 and we’ve begun advertising of that,” he continued. “Part of it is we have to do … morale boosters, like peaceful places to be, more food and better food, so that staff feel like if they get stuck, it’s not just that we’ve abandoned them.”

Schiraldi acknowledged that there’s no one solution to the low morale, but insisted that he’s already starting to see results.

“There’s no home runs here, just a lot of singles and doubles,” he said. “Already I’m seeing people, as I walk around, encouraging me and expressing more hope than they have for a while. 

“We have to deliver though,” he continued. “I can’t just give good speeches and hand sandwiches out.”