Hoping to increase the number of police officers available for local community policing, New York City council members, other public officials and union leaders rallied in support of civilianizing clerical and administrative jobs performed by NYPD officers.

Hoping to maximize the use of existing uniformed police in the fight against crime, the gathering of elected officials, which included City Council Member Vanessa Gibson and Public Advocate Letitia James, union leaders, including Eddie Rodriguez, president of Local 1549 of District Council 37, and supporters pointed to recent data indicating that 731 uniformed police officers were performing administrative and civilian functions at the end of 2013, not including those assigned to limited, restricted or modified duty.

“Putting more police on the streets—especially in communities experiencing persistently high rates of street crime and gun violence—is critical to enhancing the public safety of every community throughout New York,” Gibson said. “By civilianizing the NYPD, we will be able to more effectively utilize hundreds of available police officers who are already on the payroll and put their training and skills to use, serving all New Yorkers while saving millions of taxpayer dollars over the long term.”

James chimed in as well, saying that more local policing would make neighborhoods safer and improve police-citizen relations.

“The most effective and efficient way to utilize our limited number of uniformed police officers is to assign those officers to our neighborhood streets,” said James. “Increasing the civilianization of our police force saves the city money by reducing overtime costs and lowering the cost of administrative and clerical positions. But most importantly, it allows the NYPD to increase its presence throughout the city and continue ensuring the safety of residents.”

James added that there are 731 full-duty uniformed officers performing civilian functions that could be performed by civilian employees, and with the recent uptick in crime, particularly around public housing, she believes that it’s high time to civilianize these jobs and put officers on the beat. According to the public advocate’s office, “civilianization,” via removing 500 officers from desk gigs and putting on the street, would save New York taxpayers $35 million annually.

“Our commitment to public safety requires not only a sufficient investment in law enforcement, but also that the city make the best possible use of the resources at hand,” said Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. “By transitioning these clerical and administrative tasks to civilians, we’ll free up hundreds of police officers to get back to the work of keeping our streets safe and communities secure.”

Rodriguez was happy to hear that the city was looking into an issue with a solution that could potentially save taxpayers millions and add more cops to the streets.

“I applaud the City Council for calling upon the mayor to hire 500 police administrative aides,” said Rodriguez. “Currently, there are over 700 full-duty NYPD uniform officers performing clerical administrative duties on a daily basis. The hiring of 500 aides will allow these uniform officers to be returned to enforcement duties protecting the public and maintaining public safety.”