City Council Passes Budget That Cuts $1B From NYPD

Sean Adams
June 30, 2020 - 12:47 pm

    NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — Protesters faced off with police near City Hall at sunrise Wednesday hours after the City Council approved an $88.1 billion city budget that includes $1 billion in cuts to the NYPD.

    Unsatisfied with the NYPD budget cut, protesters who have been camped outside City Hall commandeered the intersection at Chambers and Centre streets overnight and erected barricades with construction debris. 

    Police wearing helmets contained the protesters to the sidewalk and removed the obstacles. 

    Protesters City Hall
    Sean Adams/WCBS 880

    Chief of Department Terence Monahan praised his officers for remaining cool.

    "Listen it's a tough time to be a new york city cop. When you listen to the animosity on the streets against the new york city police department that has kept this city safe, made it the safest big city, but it's gonna be tough to continue to do that with some of the stuff that's going on in the city, some of the laws that have been passed recently it makes our job a lot tougher," he said.

    The chief says people can protest, they just can't take over an intersection. 

    Protesters jeered and taunted police officers, they spray painted graffiti in the street as well as on the Surrogate's Court Building and the Dinkins Municipal Building.

    David Dinkins Municipal Building vandalized
    Sean Adams/WCBS 880

    Mayor Bill de Blasio called the vandalism unacceptable and inappropriate.

    "I believe in peaceful protest. I do not believe in attacking people. I do not believe in attacking police officers" the mayor said. "A protester who says vile, nasty things to a police officer is degrading their own movement. A protester who writes nasty, violent phrases on a public building is degrading their own movement, especially a public building named after our first African-American mayor. I mean get it together, people. If you want to protest for change, do it in a peaceful, respectful manner."

    Surrogate's Court vandalized
    Sean Adams/WCBS 880

    The COVID-19 crisis has plunged the city into a $9 billion deficit and 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.

    De Blasio called it "a misinterpretation of the law." 

    "If you look at that passage, it says the public advocate and the city clerk sign off on the tax receipts. And I don't think anyone's going to say the city clerk can shut down the New York City government and shut down our budget, nor can the public advocate," the mayor said. "So we're going to move forward. We have a budget that was agreed upon with the City Council to keep this city moving forward. And we need to recognize that it's so important in New York City to focus on our restart and our recovery and not distractions like this."

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