NYC cuts $1B from police budget amid calls for reform
Both police critics and supporters criticized the final agreement.
New York City reduced a billion dollars from the NYPD in its city budget for the next year.
Police reform advocates, cop supporters and President Trump expressed their discontent with slashing the NYPD's budget.
For the 2021 fiscal year, the $1 billion reduction in the NYPD's operating budget includes $484 million in cuts to the department; shifting the command of school officers to the Department of Education; eliminating two of the four NYPD training classes this year, which reduced headcount by 1,163 uniform officers; and reducing overtime spending by $352 million, according to the city council.
"The council will be moving forward with hearings and legislation in July to ensure a just transition away from law enforcement in schools, homelessness and mental health so that we can make certain that this is not just a budget shift," the council said in a statement.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said during a news conference Wednesday morning there will be additional work on solving the city's racial injustices through commissions and task forces.
"The future is going to involve a lot more reform," he said.
The approved budget also reallocates $500 million from the NYPD to other city departments and programs including expanded Internet broadband and youth recreation centers at the city's public housing projects, the council said. The cuts will not include layoffs of current officers, according to the budget agreement.
The city council voted on the budget in the early morning hours Wednesday morning with a vote of 32-17, with one member being absent due to hospitalization for coronavirus complications.
The budget reductions came following weeks of calls from protesters and other leaders, such as U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, to defund the police following the death of George Floyd. Police groups, including the Police Benevolent Association, the union representind NYPD members, warned leaders that any reduction in the police budget could jeopardize the city's safety.
The final agreement was met with mixed responses from both sides.
PBA President Pat Lynch cited the recent rise of shootings in the city in his criticism of the cuts.
"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," he said in a statement.
President Trump chimed in on Twitter Wednesday morning, chastising Mayor Bill de Blasio for the cuts and for his plan to paint Black Lives Matter on Fifth Avenue, right in front of Trump Tower.
"Maybe our GREAT Police, who have been neutralized and scorned by a mayor who hates & disrespects them, won't let this symbol of hate be affixed to New York's greatest street. Spend this money fighting crime instead!" he tweeted.
De Blasio also received flak from city leaders who pushed for more police cuts.
Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, who has been a vocal critic of the NYPD for years, said the cuts didn't go far enough and simply shifted officers to different agencies. He vowed to block the budget using a provision in the city's charter that states that tax "warrants need be signed only by the public advocate and counter-signed by the city clerk."
"In a moment when New Yorkers, with the entire nation, are demanding a reimagining of public safety, a reckoning with systemic injustices and inequities, the city falls far short with a budget that misses the moment of need," Williams said in a statement released Wednesday.
When asked about Williams's plan, de Blasio, a former public advocate, said Williams was misinterpreting the law.
"The city clerk cannot shut down the city budget, nor can the public advocate," the mayor said, during a news conference Wednesday morning.
Williams's office didn't immediately return messages for comment.
In the days leading up to the budget vote, hundreds of protesters camped in a park outside City Hall and demanded leaders reduce the police's budget.
"We've done different levels of escalation to make sure we're getting their attention," Jonathan Lykes, one of the movement's organizers, told WABC, ABC News' New York City affiliate. "If they defund the police by $1 billion, then we have won, but that's only our demand this week."
The crowd grew during the night as the council voted, with some standing on top of cars and chanting for cuts as officers stood by. Earlier in the day, the police said they arrested a man for allegedly spray-painting a statue on a building next to City Hall and arrested another man for allegedly punching an officer.
De Blasio admonished those protesters who allegedly vandalized the buildings and fought with officers.
"A protestor who says vile nasty things to a police officer is degrading their own movement. A protestor who writes nasty, violent phrases on a public building is degrading their own movement," he said.
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