Opinion: Take police precincts away from districts that want to defund the NYPD

Protest against the racial inequality in the aftermath of the death in Minneapolis police custody of George Floyd, in New York
The NYPD watches George Floyd protests.
REUTERS/Idris Solomon

There are serious efforts underway to eliminate and defund police departments across the country, including here in New York City. It feels as if we have entered the Twilight Zone.

Leading the way is Minneapolis, where a veto-proof majority of the City Council has agreed to eliminate their police force. Instead, social workers will respond to incidents that were usually handled by the cops. Does anyone doubt that this is where many of our current crop of city elected officials would also like to lead us?

Surprisingly, it was Mayor Bill de Blasio that was initially holding the line and refusing calls from a large number of council members to defund or drastically cut the NYPD budget saying, “I do not believe it’s a good idea to reduce the budget of the agency that’s here to keep us safe.” This was a rare moment of common sense expressed by de Blasio.

It did not last long. Last Sunday, 48 hours after his defense of the NYPD budget, Hizzoner folded like a cheap suit to his progressive brethren and announced that the city would be moving funding “from the NYPD to youth initiatives and social services.”

This effort to slash the NYPD budget is not a response to the necessary cuts that need to be made due to the economic crisis from the pandemic. Rather, it is because of an animosity toward police. As head of the Police Benevolent Association Pat Lynch stated, “The council members pushing NYPD cuts should be honest: This is about their cop-hating agenda, not the city’s bottom line.”

On top of the looting we saw recently, many crimes are up this year compared to 2019. Specifically, murders are up 25.4 percent citywide year-to-date, according to NYPD statistics. Burglaries are up an estimated 47 percent citywide year-to-date and auto theft is up 64 percent by the same metrics. Last week alone there was a 160 percent spike in murders citywide compared to the same week last year. One would think that this would strengthen the resolve to support our cops.

Can it really be that a plurality of New Yorkers support these NYPD cuts and prefer social workers to address crime? Or do they just champ at the bit to attack cops at every opportunity? This is the logical conclusion based on the actions of so many of our elected officials.

Here is a proposal to implement these NYPD cuts: The police precincts within the districts of council members that vote for the cuts and support defunding the police should be immediately shut down. Social workers and other community leaders can respond to the calls that would normally be made to police.

After about a year of having no police in these districts, voters who are pleased with the results can stick with voting for representatives that oppose the police in the citywide elections next year. Conversely, if these residents are not satisfied with the way things are going, they will have the opportunity to vote for others. 

Elections matter.

Bob Capano has worked for Brooklyn Republican and Democrat elected officials, and has been an adjunct political science professor for over 15 years. Follow him on twitter @bobcapano.