NEW YORK - This week, the mayor and City Council slashed a billion dollars from the NYPD budget, so will that make the city less safe? A budget watchdog organization says no.
“Public safety is a concern for every neighborhood and it is critical to New York’s economic vitality but given history there is every reason even with these budget cuts that New Yorkers should be assured of public safety,” said Andrew Rein, president of the Citizens Budget Commission.
The reduction includes eliminating a police class of almost 1,200 officers. That will cut nearly the same number of cops the council and mayor added five years ago. With the cuts, the NYPD will still have 34,000 officers.
“In fact the force will be larger than it was every year from 2008 to 2015 except for one," said Rein. "During that time New York had low crime, certainly for a big city and crime was reducing and is every reason to believe we can do that again.”
The officers were added In 2015 to fight crime and terrorism as well as increase community policing. Queens Councilman Eric Ulrich voted no on the new budget.
"This is the last point in time where we should be talking about defunding the NYPD. We need to do everything we can to keep the city safe," said Ulrich. “The budget that we passed will put New Yorkers at greater risk and will not make this a safer city.”
New York is currently seeing a drastic uptick in shootings and murders.
Ulrich had harsh words for fellow council members who voted for more cops in 2015 and then voted to cut the force now, following weeks of defund the police protests.
“It’s the height of hypocrisy," said the Queens councilman. "And I think there is a number of them who are trying to realize what the next step is on the political ladder is where they’re going to be in terms of their career.”
The budget also cuts police overtime by hundreds of millions of dollars. The NYPD has not said how that savings would be achieved. In the past, some agencies told to cut overtime at the start of a budget year end up paying it out anyway because of unforeseen needs.
Although Police Commissioner Dermot Shea has voiced concerns about reduced headcount, Mayor Bill de Blasio said changes in how cops are deployed, which he did not specify, will ensure the city is adequately patrolled. He explained, residents want safety and reforms.
“They believe in the NYPD, they want to see the NYPD improve in some ways. But Lord knows they want to know when they call for a police officer to help them, that that officer will be there.”
De Blasio wants the NYPD to think the same way.