The City Council was poised Tuesday to approve an $88.1 billion budget deal that Mayor de Blasio said would slash spending on the NYPD by $1.5 billion.
The cuts — a combination of trimming fat and shifting resources away from cops in response to calls to defund the NYPD in the wake of George Floyd’s killing in Minneapolis — include canceling the July Police Academy class, reducing overtime by $352 million and scrapping plans for a new 116th Precinct station house in Queens, de Blasio said.
The effects will include trimming the size of the police force by 1,163 cops, which de Blasio insisted would not decrease public safety despite a recent surge in shootings.
Hizzoner maintained that the cuts, which the council was expected to vote on late Tuesday night, wouldn’t “undermine our counterterrorism capacity” in a city that is a constant target and where just last month ago a man attacked cops while shouting “Allahu akhbar” in Brooklyn.
“It won’t be easy. We’re asking a lot of the NYPD, but the NYPD is up to the mission. I don’t have a doubt in my mind,” the mayor said. “They will find a way to be more effective and efficient, they have for years, and they will keep us safe.”
But NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea called the cuts “concerning” and warned they would “impact our ability, I believe, to keep New Yorkers safe in some way, shape and form.”
“Cutting overtime, cutting head strength at a time of rising crime, is going to be an extreme challenge for the men and women of this department — extreme,” Shea told PIX11.
“I don’t think there’s any way around that. It’s going to impact our patrol strength. It’s going to impact our training and the sad part is — and this is well-documented — it’s probably going to impact people of color more than anyone else.”
The budget slash was part of an overall $7.2 billion city spending cut from the fiscal 2021 budget due to the coronavirus crisis.
But most of that NYPD funding is not being cut from the budget at all, with $967 million instead shifted to youth programs in response to the defund-the-police calls.
The pandemic cost the city about $9 billion in revenues that de Blasio said had “evaporated — gone in the course of just a few months.”
Council Speaker Corey Johnson (D-Manhattan) said he had lined up enough votes to pass the budget, but he wanted to see even deeper cuts in spending on the NYPD.
“To everyone who is disappointed we did not go further, I want to be honest and candid, I am disappointed as well,” he said.
The NYPD cuts comprise about $1 billion of its $6 billion in annual operating expenses and about $537 million in planned capital spending, de Blasio said.
Addressing the shift in funding away from the NYPD, de Blasio said, “Our young people need to be reached, not policed. Reached.”
“We need to help them. We need to connect with them. We need to figure out what they need to move forward, how to overcome the challenges and traumas, how to nurture them and support them.”
That new spending includes:
- $450 million on “youth centers and recreation centers focused on communities of greatest need”
- $134 million on “social services and family services in the communities hit hardest by the coronavirus”
- $116 million on education
- $115 million on summer youth programs, including jobs and recreation
- $87 million to provide families living in public housing with high-speed Internet service
The budget also shifts oversight of the city’s school safety officers from the NYPD back to the Department of Education.
The head of the union that represents the school safety officers blasted the decision.
“I spoke to council members. They said they were guided by people in the streets,” said Greg Floyd, president of Teamsters Local 237. “They’re going to pay the consequences if something happens, if there’s violence in schools. The mob of protesters won’t be there then.”
The city is also shifting the $4.5 million NYPD homeless-engagement unit to the Department of Homeless Services. But traffic agents are staying under the purview of the NYPD.
The Police Benevolent Association’s general counsel tweeted that de Blasio and the City Council were trying to “outdo” each other “in making harmful NYPD budget cuts — which will diminish public safety in NYC.”
The tweet included surveillance video of a mugging in which a woman was throttled and forced to the pavement by a masked man who stole her bag in Manhattan’s Kips Bay neighborhood Monday morning.
In addition to detailing the cuts to the NYPD, de Blasio warned that as many as 22,000 city employees would face layoffs if municipal labor unions don’t agree to $1 billion in savings by Oct. 1.
De Blasio said he would “keep working on trying to get that stimulus in Washington, that borrowing authority in Albany,” but wouldn’t try to save jobs by “turning to city workers and saying take a pay cut.”
Other changes to the spending plan include:
- Withdrawing $500,000 from the city’s reserve fund
- Saving $300 million in spending on various agencies, including $200 million through a hiring freeze on central office workers at the Department of Education and the lower costs of remote learning
- Paying for Staten Island Ferry operations with $17 million in federal coronavirus relief funds
- Saving $4 million by eliminating Sunday collections from sidewalk litter baskets
City Comptroller Scott Stringer criticized the budget, saying it was loaded with “gimmicks,” “tricks” and “manipulated math.”
“The ‘$1 billion cut to the NYPD proposed by the Mayor and the City Council is not a $1 billion cut — it’s a bait and switch and a paper-thin excuse for reform,” he said.
The head of the independent Citizens Budget Commission also said the budget was “precariously balanced” and didn’t “go far enough to shrink large budget gaps in fiscal year 2022 and beyond.
“New York City’s leaders did not make sufficient hard choices needed to put the City on a firmer fiscal foundation for the long term,” CBC President Andrew Rein added.
Source: New York Post
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