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Nobody likes it: Billion-dollar NYPD defunding criticized by protesters and police supporters

Public Advocate Jumaane Williams was so dissatisfied with the proposed $1 billion cutback in NYPD funding that he threatened to use his City Charter authority to stop the budget's execution if additional funds were not reduced. (Photo by Todd Maisel)

The impending $88.1 billion budget for New York City has drawn ire on both sides of the aisle — and on both sides of the push to defund the New York Police Department.

The plan includes a $2 billion slash to municipal spending and a $1 billion cut to the NYPD. But, as the City Council gears up to vote on the budget, both supporters and opponents of the push to defund the police are blasting the mayor — the latter for going too far, and the former for not going far enough when it comes to cutting back on funding for the NYPD.

Additionally, more than a dozen New York City councilmembers were expected to vote against the proposed budget as of Tuesday morning — some on each side of the deal.

Police Benevolent Association President Pat Lynch, who earlier this month blasted the state legislature for making legal changes affecting the Police Department without “giving [them] a seat at the table,” said Monday that the mayor’s commitment sent a clear message to New Yorkers.

“Mayor de Blasio’s message to New Yorkers today was clear: you will have fewer cops on your streets,” Lynch said in a statement. “Shootings more than doubled again last week. Even right now, the NYPD doesn’t have enough manpower to shift cops to one neighborhood without making another neighborhood less safe. 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.”

Organizers of groups like VOCAL-NY — a grassroots organization dedicated to “building power” within low-income neighborhoods and helping people of color negatively impacted by the current system — said they’d hoped for more, and that the proposed budget sends a different kind of message than Lynch described to underserved communities.

“The deal as described does nothing… preserving police resources and power — with not a single layoff among NYPD’s uniformed cops — and continues the mayor’s initial budget proposal to starve the communities left devastated by the coronavirus crisis, the same communities targeted by historical and current police abuse,” according to a VOCAL-NY statement.

Public Advocate Jumaane Williams also blasted the proposal ahead of Tuesday’s Council vote, threatening to use the City Charter to block the collection of property taxes and prevent the budget from being executed if stakeholders do not change the current school safety model, discuss policing reform, and enact an NYPD hiring freeze.

“New Yorkers will not be content with low hanging fruit, when what’s needed is to uproot the tree,” Williams tweeted. 

Others, like President of the Citizens Crime Commission of New York City Richard Aborn, lauded the mayor and the City Council for having reached a compromise that doesn’t reduce the current headcount of the department.

“There is no dispute that policing needs significant reforms; no dispute whatsoever. I have been clear about that fact, and many reforms both long term and short term can be achieved,” he said in a statement released Tuesday “But also make no mistake about this: cutting cops in the midst of rapidly rising crime will not address many, or even any, of the very important issues that have been raised about policing. And further cutting overtime at the beginning of July, when the department relies on putting more cops out to cut crime will have [a] woeful effect.”

The City Council is expected to vote on the budget early Tuesday evening.

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