NYC proposal would cut $1 billion from police budget

The budget cuts would come from removing school safety functions from police, implementing a hiring freeze and limiting overtime


Shant Shahrigian
New York Daily News

NEW YORK — The New York City Council is pushing to cut $1 billion from the NYPD’s budget, a potentially historic turning point in law enforcement in the Big Apple.

The massive cut to the NYPD’s annual $6 billion budget would come from removing functions like school safety and homeless outreach from the police; reducing the size of the force, from 36,000 to 33,000 through a hiring freeze and by not replacing officers who retire; and limiting overtime pay.

Council staffers analyzed areas that can be cut at the behest of Council Speaker Corey Johnson, sources said, signaling he is on board with the proposal — one of the biggest demands to emerge from recent protests sparked by the death of Minnesota man George Floyd.

After the Daily News first reported the proposal, Johnson’s office released a statement formally calling for the cut.

“We believe that we can and should work to get to $1 billion in cuts to New York City’s police spending in the Fiscal 2021 budget, an unprecedented reduction that would not only limit the scope of the NYPD, but also show our commitment towards moving away from the failed policing policies of the past,” he said in a joint statement with the chairs of the Black, Latino and Asian Caucus and other lawmakers.

Other elected officials have called for the NYPD’s budget to be cut by $1 billion, but with Mayor Bill de Blasio opposed to such a big reduction, now’s the time for Council members to walk the walk, said a Council source.

“Before the briefing, members didn’t know if we could cut a billion. The speaker has shown there’s a billion dollars to cut. Now the question is whether Council members have the courage of their convictions,” said the source, who requested anonymity due to the sensitivity of the discussions.

The Council’s Budget Negotiating Team presented the proposed $1 billion cut to members on Thursday and Friday.

It comes as the city is grappling with a huge loss in tax revenue due to the coronavirus outbreak. De Blasio’s $89.3 billion executive budget, revised in April in the thick of the crisis, inflicted painful cuts upon the Department of Education and a popular summer youth employment program, while leaving the NYPD nearly intact.

A second Council source said the legislature was still figuring out where to spend the $1 billion that could be saved by slashing the NYPD’s budget.

“We’re still negotiating,” that source said. “The key areas obviously would be summer youth employment, education, health care — all of the things that created the disparities around COVID-19.”

A third source noted the $1 billion cut is not a done deal and described the proposal as “the first step in thinking about” transforming the NYPD.

Under state law, the City Council and mayor must finalize the budget by June 30.

Localities throughout the country have been mulling steps to reduce the size of their police forces or even dismantle them completely. On Sunday, the Minneapolis City Council voted to close its police department, saying it was beyond any hope of reform, and create a new public safety system that’s rooted in the community.

Protests in the Big Apple and beyond that were prompted by Floyd’s May 25 death quickly took on demands from the Black Lives Matter movement.

In New York City, cutting the NYPD budget by $1 billion has emerged as a key action item from progressive lawmakers, activists and even members of de Blasio’s own staff.

On Sunday, the mayor promised to reallocate some funding from the NYPD to youth and social programs, but later gave a hard “no” to cutting the force’s budget by $1 billion.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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