AS A CRIME-FIGHTING strategy, adding more cops to the force makes sense, but it takes time.

This year, the Police Department is in the process of adding 200 officers to a uniformed force of 6,624.

Last July 1, the city made the money available, and by September the state kicked in its share.

But Police Commissioner Sylvester Johnson said the first officers to be hired didn't start their seven-month course at the Police Academy until Nov. 20. They'll hit the streets in June.

The November class had 110 officers. In the past, a typical class had 70 to 80 recruits, he said. Next month, a class of 150 will start training, and a third class of 116 starts in late April.

With attrition running at about 300 officers per year, the department would have to graduate about 500 officers to meet the goals.

There staffing and space issues at the academy, said Deputy Commissioner Charlotte Council. A class of 150 is workable; 200 is too large, she said.

Capt. Benjamin Naish, the department spokesman, said that adding 500 officers in four years would require graduating 425 officers per year - 125 new officers plus 300 to replace retirees. *

Mark McDonald