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NYPD Commissioner William Bratton is happy with "good news budget"

New York City Police Commissioner William J. Bratton

New York City Police Commissioner William J. Bratton speaks to members of the media Tuesday, June 23, 2015 at One Police Plaza. Credit: Craig Ruttle

NYPD Commissioner William Bratton said Tuesday he welcomed the city's new spending plan, calling it a "good news budget" that will grow the size of the force for the first time in more than a decade and will allow him to implement a new vision for the department.

"You will get no complaints from me about this budget, it is very generous to the NYPD," Bratton told reporters Tuesday after he addressed a symposium of clergy at police headquarters. "It gives us the resources and technology."

Essentially, the NYPD will be getting almost 1,700 officers -- new hires and reassigned desk officers -- to work in programs that he plans to unveil in the coming weeks. A department spokesman said the new officers would bring the force up to about 35,800.

While many of the details of the police budget, as well as Bratton's plan for the department, will be spelled out in the coming days, a few of the broad strokes are known. Just over 300 officers -- Bratton hinted the number would be higher -- will become part of a permanent critical response unit designed to handle terrorism and other larger emergencies. Hundreds of additional officers, the exact number is still unclear, will become part of a beefed-up neighborhood policing program that appears to be the centerpiece of Bratton's emerging vision of the NYPD.

Bratton wants the officers to have the training and the time to start addressing problems of the neighborhoods they police instead of chasing 911 calls. A pilot neighborhood policing program is underway in four precincts -- two in upper Manhattan and two in the Rockaway section of Queens.

Despite Mayor Bill de Blasio's refusal in recent months to add more cops to his budget, he and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito announced late Monday a deal that gives the NYPD 1,297 new officers, civilianizes 400 jobs currently done by officers and pays for things by capping overtime at $70 million.

Patrolmen's Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch, through a spokesman, said the new officers were "a drop in the bucket" compared to the force level in 2001 when the city had about 41,000 officers.

And Lynch said while an overtime cap sounds good from a budget standpoint, city officers are not paid as much as they should be and that cutting overtime is really a pay cut for them. Historically overtime has been unpredictable due to events such as major storms like Hurricane Sandy. In past years, the city had budgeted over $400 million in overtime for cops, and for the 10 years from 2000 to 2010, the average overtime per officer was about $10,500, according to city reports.

"We still have a very sizable overtime budget, it is not like overtime went away," said Bratton without mentioning specifics.

For Bratton, the new budget is a historic watershed for the department. "I would argue there has never been a time -- maybe during (former Mayor) David Dinkins time with 6,000 additional cops -- when so much has been given to this police department in such a short period of time," Bratton said.

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