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NYPD Commissioner William Bratton said he expects to ask for at least 350 new cops

New York City Police Commissioner William J. Bratton

New York City Police Commissioner William J. Bratton testifies at a New York City Council budget committee hearing in City Hall on Thursday, March 12, 2015. Credit: Charles Eckert

NYPD Commissioner William Bratton indicated to the City Council Thursday that, spurred in part by a yearlong study, he needs at least 350 more cops.

Current NYPD uniformed strength seesaws around the 35,100 mark at a time when Bratton said it is being tested by new challenges, including the terrorism threat posed by the Islamic State group, or ISIS, and novel training initiatives.

"It is my expectation that the department will be receiving additional officers based on the underlying analysis, the final numbers have not yet been arrived at," Bratton told the council's public safety committee.

Since he took office in January 2014, Bratton has pointedly reminded lawmakers that the NYPD's strength has dropped from a high of around 41,000 in September 2001 to the current 35,000, during which time the department's workload has increased. Bratton started a "re-engineering" study on the department's future, which is driving staff requests.

Mayor Bill de Blasio later told reporters that police brass have made presentations about the need for more police, but no final decision had been made.

Bratton's remarks came during more than an hour of testimony during which he was briefly interrupted by protesters speaking out against the "Broken Windows" concept of policing and citing the Eric Garner case on Staten Island.

"We don't need a thousand more cops," said one protester, with another adding: "Community policing is a lie."

Council security personnel let the protesters have their say, then escorted them out and cleared the room of all but reporters and staff.

"It was a little disruptive but then I made the comment that Jimmy Durante said, that everybody wants to get into the act," Bratton said of the outburst.

A police official who didn't want to be named said the protesters appeared to be a group that tries to follow Bratton at all his public appearances.

While Bratton said he couldn't give an exact number of new cops needed, he indicated the number would be at least 350 to compensate for officers being assigned to a new citywide critical response unit with counterterrorism duties.

Last year a number of City Council members called for the hiring of 1,000 more officers, a number Bratton said he wouldn't oppose. Thursday, de Blasio hinted more officers may be coming when the budget is adopted next month.

"We obviously know the commissioner has an interest in some additional resources, and we're going to talk with him about it and come to a decision about what we think makes sense," de Blasio told reporters.

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