Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell, who told the City Council Monday...

Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell, who told the City Council Monday that the current level of police overtime is not sustainable. Credit: Louis Lanzano

The current level of massive NYPD police overtime spent patrolling the subways and elsewhere in the city, while helping to cut crime, is unsustainable in the long run, Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell warned a City Council pane; on Monday.

NYPD spending on overtime has already blown past the budgeted amount for the current fiscal year by more than $100 million as cops continue to flood the subways, pushing overtime costs to levels not seen recent years, Sewell noted in her testimony before the council committee on public safety.

A big chunk of the large overtime was for tamping down subway crime and the effects have been measurable, noted Sewell. Serious subway crimes are down more than 17% so far in 2023, compared to the same period a year ago and other officials note that surveys of public sentiment about safety in the subway have improved.

“We have had to extend tours of officers…so there is overtime added to officers’ tours,” Sewell explained, referring to how police resources were being used on the subway system.

“That is not sustainable in the long term,” Sewell acknowledged.

As a way to offset the overtime explosion in the subway initiative, the NYPD cut overtime for special events like the traditional Greenwich Village Halloween Parade and New Year's Eve celebrations, officials said.

Asked by one committee member what the NYPD was doing to have units rein in overtime spending beyond the budgeted amounts, Sewell replied that the department had an inspection service that audited cops to make sure the reported overtime was justified.

With an NYPD budget for fiscal year 2024 projected to be $5.4 billion, critics created a small disturbance during the testimony of Sewell and other NYPD officials during the budget hearing by making “squeakie” toy noises. An angry committee chair Kamillah Hanks had about a half-dozen raucous and boisterous protestors expelled from the council chamber.

Sewell and other NYPD officials also pushed back at the hearing about claims that she had squelched or modified hundreds of sustained complaints by the Civilian Complaint Review Board against officers for various levels of misconduct.

Sewell said that such criticism was incorrect and didn’t take into account that the CCRB wasn’t able, for logistical and staffing reasons, some related to the pandemic, to get to those cases referred to the department in a timely manner before the 18-month statute of limitations had expired.

Sewell said she agreed with the CCRB recommendations on discipline 80% of the time in cases that were accepted for final disposition by her office or after departmental trials.

Deputy Commissioner Amy Litwin, who supervises the department disciplinary process, said the NYPD agreed with penalties suggested under the special disciplinary matrix—a joint guideline formulated by the NYPD and CCRB—over 99% of the time.

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