nypdtimessquare.jpgThe recent $10,000 bump in rookie firefighters' pay is probably a hot topic of conversation at Cosmo's Diner on 23rd St. That's where police recruits often gather before and after their days at the police academy in Gramercy. The new contract between the FDNY and the City leaves new members of the NYPD in the dust, earning only an annual salary of $25,100 during their first six months of duty. Once officers graduate from the academy, their pay rises to $32, 700. The attractiveness of a career that offers a full pension after 20 years on the job, however, quickly pales when one has to contemplate getting by in New York on close to minimum wage. The New York Times looked at a few new recruits and their difficulties getting through lean times:

Mr. Gonell, Mr. Ferrari, Ms. O’Connor and Mr. Torres, along with several other recruits, said that they knew being a police officer would never make them rich, but that their desire to join the force outweighed the financial hardship.

But now, four months into their training at the Police Academy, and with graduation less than two months away, several recruits said that they had greatly underestimated just how difficult it would be to make ends meet. Student loans have gone unpaid. Credit card debts have mushroomed. Parents have been tapped, repeatedly and exhaustively, for emergency funds, extra bedrooms and leftovers.

“After my mom cooks for me, I spread it out,” said Mr. Gonell, 25, who lives in the Bronx. “Rice and chicken, rice and chicken. I’m going to fly out of here eventually, that’s how much chicken I eat.”

O'Connor, who attended law school at Notre Dame and was a paramedic in Queens, is gutting it out with the help of her roommate. Torres was making much more money working as a police officer in Burbank, CA, but the Brooklynite knew that Burbank is not NYC and came home. There are other stories in the Times' article detailing penny-pinching habits that recruits have resorted to and the lengths that NYPD trainees have to go––even as single parents and holding masters degrees––to graduate to the lowest rung of the department's ladder.

(NYPD Times Square, by lachance at flickr)