New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has pledged to cut funding to police in the wake of mass protests and violent riots over allegations of police brutality and systemic racism.
The New York Police Department has an annual budget of $6 billion. De Blasio, a Democrat, said he would redirect a percentage of the funds toward social programs, though he declined to say how much or designate which programs would receive additional funding, according to The New York Times.
“We’re committed to seeing a shift of funding to youth services, to social services, that will happen literally in the course of the next three weeks, but I’m not going to go into detail because it is subject to negotiation and we want to figure out what makes sense,” the mayor said on Sunday.
For over a week, protesters have crowded the streets of New York City amid a pandemic demanding justice for George Floyd, a black man who died on May 25 while in police custody in Minneapolis, and others. Many of the protests have turned violent, forcing New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to call in National Guard units to supplement police officers and crack down on rioters and looters.
Hundreds of officers have been injured attempting to restore peace to the city, and Sunday’s announcement has added further strain to de Blasio’s already fragile relationship with the city’s police force. Police officers famously turned their backs on the mayor when he attended the funeral for a New York City police officer assassinated while sitting in his police cruiser in July 2017.
On Saturday, the head of the New York police captains’ union slammed unnamed “elected officials” for putting law enforcement in a difficult position, according to the New York Post.
“They do not have your back and will use you as a political pawn!” Captains’ Endowment Association President Chris Monahan said in a letter to union members. “My assessment is ‘Hands off the protester/looter you will be assaulted by them. Hands on the protester/looter you will be assaulted by our elected officials.’ BE CAREFUL!”
Another police union president Ed Mullins expressed doubt that the mayor would follow through on his pledge to cut the police force.
“I know he just recently said that he wasn’t going to do that,” Mullins, head of the Sergeants Benevolent Association, told The New York Times. “I guess, let’s see what he says on Monday and what his next decision is going to be.”
Days before announcing the pledged reforms, de Blasio defended the police department against calls to cut its budget.
“I do not believe it’s a good idea to reduce the budget of the agency that’s here to keep us safe,” the mayor said on Friday during a City Hall press briefing.
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