New York City officials fear that the pending retirement of nearly 3,000 officers could threaten the city's record low crime rate. The New York Post reports that the officers, who joined the force almost 20 years ago as part of the  Safe City, Safe Streets program, are eligible for retirement this month. Though the Police Academy plans to graduate a new class in January, sources told the Post that the potential lack of experienced cops has left the NYPD "scrambling for bodies."

This group of retirees were recruited under Mayor Rudy Giuliani as part of a program designed to address the city's crack cocaine issue. Entering the Police Academy in Aug. 1993, they were hired as part of the Safe City, Safe Streets program in Jan. 1994. Police strengthened the force by hiring roughly 7,000 cops over the next five years, increasing it to 38,000. It topped 40,000 by 2001, but has recently dipped to around 35,000. With 80 percent of cops retiring after 20 years, that number stands to increase even more.

City Councilman and head of the Public Safety Committee Peter Vallone believes people should be more concerned:

I think people should be extremely worried...Safe City, Safe Streets taught us a lesson, and it’s a lesson that people are forgetting. There doesn’t seem to be any plan to keep up with the attention. The crime rate has stopped dropping at the level that it has in the past, and certain crimes have been going up, and that’s directly the result of not having enough cops on the street.

There have been 199 murders in New York City this year; there were 269 at the same time last year. The crime rate has fallen to 1.89 percent, but three of the seven major crime categories—rapes, assaults and grand larcenies—have increased. Many fear that a depleted police force and a curbed stop-and-frisk will result in a spike in crime.

[via New York Post]