New York City Council Passes Budget That Cuts $1B From NYPD

June 30, 2020

Photo credit Sean Adams/WCBS 880

The City Council approved early Wednesday an $88.1 billion city budget that includes $1 billion in cuts to the NYPD.

Hours after the budget was passed, protesters faced off with police near City Hall at sunrise. The protesters have said the budget doesn't go far enough, and some have vowed to continue to camp outside City Hall until their demands are met.

The protesters had erected barriers in the street, but police moved in around dawn to remove the barriers and push the protesters back onto the sidewalk.

Sean Adams/WCBS 880
Photo credit Sean Adams/WCBS 880

The COVID-19 crisis has plunged the city into a $9 billion deficit and Mayor Bill de Blasio said there have to be cuts all across the board.

The mayor said his budget is about change, progress and ensuring that the city acts in the spirit of social justice while also maintaining public safety.

Under the budget, $1 billion will be shifted away from the police department and invested in youth and social programs by cancelling the upcoming NYPD recruit class that would've started in July, reassigning officers to ensure patrol strength, reducing overtime and lowering spending on contracts and non-personnel.

Approximately $430 million in cuts from the NYPD will be invested in summer youth programs, education, and family and social services. Nearly $537 million will be redirected to youth recreation centers and expanded broadband service at NYCHA housing.

"As we looked at the question of public safety I had three ground rules: we have to keep the city safe, we have to protect the levels of patrol strength throughout our communities and we had to make sure that we were really doing something to refocus resources on young people and on communities hardest hit, that we were reinvesting in way that would help us address a lot of the root causes of the problems we face," de Blasio said. "I am confident that this budget does exactly that."

The mayor said school safety officers will be moved from the NYPD to the Department of Education and that vendor and homeless enforcement will be removed from police control.

WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb on Monday asked de Blasio if the $1 billion cut to the NYPD's nearly $6 billion budget is punitive, to which the mayor responded, “No, not at all.”

“Every agency has had to go through a lot of cuts to begin with. Everyone's been going through the exercise. The NYPD did a hell of a good job saying, ‘Okay here's a bunch of things we could do while still keeping this city safe,’” the mayor said.

Patrick Lynch, president of the Police Benevolent Association, responded to the proposed cut saying the mayor and City Council have "surrendered the city to lawlessness."

"Mayor de Blasio's message to New Yorkers today was clear: you will have fewer cops on your streets," he said in a statement. "Shootings more than doubled again last week. Even right now, the NYPD doesn't have enough manpower to shift cops to one neighborhood without making another neighborhood less safe. We will say it again: the Mayor and the City Council have surrendered the city to lawlessness. Things won't improve until New Yorkers hold them responsible."

Retired police captain and Molloy College professor John Eterno said the budget cut will hurt the city. He tells WCBS 880 that the NYPD is already suffering.

"Morale is horrible, morale certainly is at a low point in the history of the department and I would venture to say that as a police officer if I'm hearing this I feel as if my leaders, the executive branch of the government, the mayor is not backing me up," he said.

Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14) said the cuts don't go far enough.

"Defunding police means defunding police. It does not mean budget tricks or funny math. It does not mean moving school police officers from the NYPD budget to the Department of Education's budget so that the exact same police remain in schools. It does not mean counting overtime cuts as cuts, even as NYPD ignores every attempt by City Council to curb overtime spending and overspends on overtime anyways. It does not mean hiring more police officers while cutting more than $800M from NYC schools. If these reports are accurate, then these proposed 'cuts' to NYPD's budget are a disingenuous illusion. This is not a victory," she wrote in a statement. "The fight to defund policing continues."

Meanwhile, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams is threatening to block passage of the budget unless there's a hiring freeze for the NYPD and school safety officers are removed from the department umbrella.

"I have been very clear that as we move forward with this discussion of public safety we want everybody in this city to be safe but things are lining up around the world and in this city that can challenge that and we have to have a true discussion of what that means,"Williams said.

He said he would invoke an obscure clause in the city charter which prevents the budget from "being executed during the final tax warrant process."

To his knowledge, the provision has never been used before.

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