Billion-dollar cut to NYPD criticized by protesters and police supporters

Public Advocate Jumaane Williams was so dissatisfied with the proposed $1 billion cutback in NYPD funding that he threatened to use his City Charter authority to stop the budget’s passage if additional reforms were not made.
Photo by Todd Maisel

The impending $88.1 billion budget for New York City that includes a $1 billion cut to the New York Police Department has drawn ire on both sides of the aisle — with police advocates slamming the cuts and activists claiming the reforms don’t go far enough.

As of Tuesday morning, more than a dozen New York City councilmembers were expected to vote against the budget plan this evening — with some calling it insufficient and others saying that the NYPD cuts go too far. 

Police Benevolent Association President Pat Lynch, who earlier this month blasted the state legislature for making legal changes affecting the Police Department without “giving [them] a seat at the table,” said Monday that the mayor’s commitment sent a clear message to New Yorkers.

“Mayor de Blasio’s message to New Yorkers today was clear: you will have fewer cops on your streets,” Lynch said in a statement. “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.”

Meanwhile, organizers from groups like VOCAL-NY — a grassroots organization dedicated to “building power” within low-income neighborhoods — said they’d hoped for more systemic reforms. 

“The deal as described does nothing … [it preserves] police resources and power — with not a single layoff among NYPD’s uniformed cops — and continues the mayor’s initial budget proposal to starve the communities left devastated by the coronavirus crisis, the same communities targeted by historical and current police abuse,” VOCAL-NY said in a statement.

Public Advocate Jumaane Williams also blasted the proposal ahead of Tuesday’s Council vote, threatening to use the City Charter to block the collection of property taxes and prevent the budget from being implemented if stakeholders do not change the current school safety model, discuss policing reform, and enact an NYPD hiring freeze.

“New Yorkers will not be content with low hanging fruit, when what’s needed is to uproot the tree,” Williams tweeted. 

Others, like President of the Citizens Crime Commission of New York City Richard Aborn, lauded the mayor and the City Council for having reached a compromise that doesn’t reduce the current headcount of the department.

“There is no dispute that policing needs significant reforms; no dispute whatsoever. I have been clear about that fact, and many reforms both long term and short term can be achieved,” he said in a statement released Tuesday “But also make no mistake about this: cutting cops in the midst of rapidly rising crime will not address many, or even any, of the very important issues that have been raised about policing. And further cutting overtime at the beginning of July, when the department relies on putting more cops out to cut crime will have [a] woeful effect.”

The City Council is expected to vote on the budget early Tuesday evening.