This is not the type of police reform certain activists were looking for.
Last week, a group made up of nearly 60 organizations sent a letter to New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and the council itself to oppose their proposal to add 1,100 police officers to the New York Police Department’s headcount. The group advocates addressing community funding needs and prioritizing police reforms.
“Adding 1,000 new positions within the Police Department not only raises significant concerns for communities that have yet to see public accountability for the department, but it also would come at the expense of more beneficial long-term investments in the safety and well being of our neighborhoods,” read the letter, which was signed by groups such as the Bronx Defenders, Communities United for Police Reform, Coalition for the Homeless, Make the Road New York and Jews for Racial and Economic Justice.
The organizations want the City Council to address what they feel is the problem with the NYPD’s system of accountability and culture of abusing, targeting and harassing innocent residents.
“While there has been a focus on the issue of ‘police-community relations,’ there has not been enough attention paid to addressing the concrete and underlying issues of discriminatory and abusive policing,” continued the letter. “Commissioner [William] Bratton has not substantively addressed many of these problems … to resolve the long-term and complete failure in holding the NYPD accountable in cases of police abuse and brutality.
“Without addressing these core issues, the addition of 1,000 new Police Department positions—to be dispersed throughout our communities that already feel over-policed—threatens to exacerbate these long-standing problems.”
In a separate statement, Priscilla Gonzalez of Communities United for Reform feels that the NYPD doesn’t work for the public the way that it should.
“When there has been no systemic changes to the failed police accountability and culture that allow police abuses and killings of civilians to continue, proposals to increase NYPD staff are not in the best interests of our communities and their safety. While broken windows and stop-and-frisk abuses continue daily, the NYPD’s ‘community policing’ plan remains primarily rhetoric and does not warrant additional NYPD staff,” said Gonzalez in a statement.
According to the organizations behind the letter, the NYPD has one of the highest officer-to-resident ratios in the United States, with a City Limits report stating that there are more officers in the NYPD than the total number of police in 45 states.
“The City Council should not allow these serious issues to be glossed over in the name of ‘community policing’ that is more rhetorical than substantive,” read the letter. “There are many factors that contribute to safety. Adding 1,000 additional personnel to the Police Department … while underfunding crucial community-based programs and services is not the answer.”