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Mayor Bill de Blasio's proposed $1B NYPD reduction met with skepticism

Protest signs, with demonstrators in the background, at

Protest signs, with demonstrators in the background, at a rally Sunday in a park near City Hall in Manhattan to call for cuts to the NYPD.   Credit: Getty Images/Jeenah Moon

The NYPD’s $6 billion budget would face $1 billion in “savings” under a plan announced Monday by Mayor Bill de Blasio in answer to demands by George Floyd protesters for defunding or at least reducing the police department. But several groups accused the administration of fiscal shell games that simply flick certain expenditures to other municipal agencies under the guise of fundamental change.

At a virtual news conference Monday, de Blasio wouldn’t say how the savings would be realized, though he wouldn’t rule out reducing the NYPD’s 36,000-officer force, which only four years ago he and the City Council had boosted by 1,300 cops.

New York City under de Blasio, a Democrat, is facing $9 billion in lost tax revenue due to the pandemic-riven economy and pressure from protesters, who have demonstrated for more than a month following the bystander-recorded death of Floyd on May 25 while a Minneapolis cop knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes. There is currently an encampment of hundreds outside New York City Hall demanding at least $1 billion in NYPD cuts.

“We have a plan that can achieve real reform, that can achieve real redistribution, and at the same time ensure that we keep our city safe, and we make sure that our officers are on patrol where we need them,” said de Blasio, who said earlier this month that part of the NYPD’s budget would be shifted — to youth and social services — after being cool to the idea days earlier. 

Under the law, next year’s municipal budget, which was $92.8 billion last year,  must be finalized by the end of June — Tuesday. The NYPD’s budget has grown $1.2 billion — an increase of 27% — between the 2010 and 2020 fiscal years, according to a report by the Citizens Budget Commission.

According to a report Sunday in Politico New York, de Blasio’s plan would move school-safety agents, who are unarmed but wear NYPD uniforms, into the education department; a July class of 1,100 recruits would be canceled; and homelessness patrol would be diverted from NYPD control.

Throughout Monday, left-leaning groups released statements criticizing the mayor's proposal.

The Working Families Party said: “Now is not the time for empty promises and budgetary musical chairs.” The Center for Constitutional Rights said the proposal “only hides the ball and does little to reduce the footprint of abusive and violent policing.”

Until outrage over Floyd’s death ignited protests, rioting and other unrest around the world, the prospect of defunding, abolishing, dismantling or even substantially cutting police funding had been almost the exclusive province of the political fringes — including some on the far left and others who are libertarian. Post-Floyd, that's all changed, including in Minneapolis, Los Angeles and beyond.

On Friday in Minneapolis, the City Council greenlighted a plan to dismantle its police force and replace it with a "Department of Community Safety and Violence Prevention" with “responsibility for public safety services prioritizing a holistic, public health-oriented approach.”  The new department would be directed by someone with “non-law-enforcement experience in community safety services, including but not limited to public health and/or restorative justice approaches.”

In Los Angeles, Mayor Eric Garcetti is reversing a quarter-century of LAPD growth by city Republican and Democratic administrations alike, and promised to redirect $250 million to youth jobs, health programs and “peace centers” to heal trauma.

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