New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is proposing to slash the city’s police department budget by $1 billion, even as crime is spiking in the Big Apple.
In a Monday morning press conference at City Hall, the Democrat said the saved money would be diverted to “young people.”
“My office presented to City Council a plan that would achieve the billion in savings for the NYPD and shift resources to young people, to communities in a way that would help address a lot of the underlying issues that we know are the cause of so many problems in our society,” he said. His plan is in line with the city council leaders, who have also called for a billion-dollar cut to the police department’s budget.
With COVID-19 still sweeping the U.S. and more than 40 million Americans still out of work, de Blasio said New York City faces “the toughest budget that we’ve had to do as an administration here at City Hall.” He said the city’s proposed budget, which is due Tuesday, is currently $8 billion less than what had been proposed in February.
“We’re in a whole different situation in fact than New York City has ever faced in our history – a health care crisis, an economic crisis, a disparity crisis, a budget crisis all wrapped into one and on a massive, massive scale,” he said. “We’ve gotta focus on those basics health, safety, food, shelter.”
But de Blasio added that “we have an unprecedented opportunity to change some things.”
The mayor’s move comes as scores of officers in the NYPD are retiring. By mid-June, the department saw 233 members file for retirement, nearly double the number over the same time period last year, CBS New York reports.
Sources told the station there’s been a 19% increase in retirements of uniformed officers since March compared to the same period last year. “What we’re experiencing here in the NYPD is no different than what other jurisdictions are experiencing,” said retired NYPD Lt. Darrin Porcher, who teaches criminal justice at Pace University.
“The lack of support from political leaders is one component,” he said. “The second component is the cantankerous relationship between police and community in connection with police and community relations. And third, you just have external issues, such as maybe family members that may feel a sense of repulsiveness to you being an officer.”
Meanwhile, according to New York Police Department statistics, murder, burglary, and grand larceny auto crimes have spiked in New York City since protests began following the death of George Floyd, who perished while in the custody of Minneapolis police.
There have been more than 40 murders since citywide protests began — twice as many as during the same period last year, according to NYPD stats as of up to June 14. So far this year, there have been 159 murders — a number 25% higher than last year, the statistics show.
De Blasio said the NYPD cutbacks are in line with other agencies.
“The NYPD is being treated clearly in a specific manner. A number of agencies are being cut quite a bit, but we’re dealing with a specific reality with the NYPD unquestionably,” he said.
The NYPD has the largest police force in the country, with nearly 36,000 uniformed members and 19,000 civilian members. While de Blasio offered no details, other city officials have called for reducing overtime and trimming the force by attrition. Some of the money saved can be moved into social services and community outreach programs.
“It‘s important to show that we are going to make changes in this city. We are going to refocus our efforts on young people in particular,” de Blasio said. “It’s being done in a smart safe manner and I know the NYPD can handle it effectively.”
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