Cuomo puts NYC on the clock for police reform, but de Blasio’s office offers no specifics

Protest against the death in Minneapolis police custody of George Floyd, in New York
Demonstrators face police officers as they take part in a protest against the death in Minneapolis police custody of George Floyd, in the Manhattan borough of New York City, U.S., June 2, 2020. REUTERS/Jeenah Moon

Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office declined to provide details as to how it plans to address Governor Andrew Cuomo’s executive order mandating police reform by April 1, with state funding hanging in the balance.

“We will work with the state on next steps,” said Freddi Goldstein, press secretary for the mayor, in an email to amNewYork Metro Sunday. 

Administration representatives, speaking on background, said de Blasio has already committed to shifting funding from the NYPD and “taking existing functions out of the NYPD.”

The mayor reaffirmed that position in speaking with Black church leaders Sunday morning.

During his afternoon press conference on June 14, Cuomo reiterated that the effort to reform the NYPD and hundreds of other local police departments across New York state “gets real” with the executive order he signed on June 12.

The governor mandated that every locality in New York state work with their police departments, residents, elected officials, activists, and public safety experts on reform plans that must be enacted into law by April 1. If they fail to comply with the order, they risk losing state funding for items excluding health and human services, Cuomo said on June 13.

“The police are a function of what the community wants,” the governor said Sunday. “We’ve heard loud and clear that the community wants a different type of police force. Great, now do it.”

Cuomo stressed that “every community needs a real plan” that results in a modern police department fitting their needs. He noted that Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown had gotten the reform ball rolling on June 10, releasing an agenda two days prior to the executive order. 

Calling the mayor of a locality “a natural leader for this effort,” Cuomo seemed to challenge de Blasio to take the reins of the effort in New York City.

But he also pointed to City Council Speaker Corey Johnson or Queens City Councilman Donovan Richards, who chairs the Council’s Public Safety Committee and is running for Queens borough president, as leaders who could take up the cause if de Blasio, for whatever reason, declined to do so himself.

“But somebody has to be a leader now, and come to the table and start to redesign because the clock is ticking. Time is wasting,” Cuomo said. “The plan has to be passed by April 1. Why passed? Because it has to be a law, not just a wishlist. … Government is very good about doing a report that sits on a shelf for about 150 years. Come up with your plan, pass it and make it law so people know exactly what we have.”