In a move that shocked many New Yorkers, Mayor Bill de Blasio changed direction and added 1,300 new NYPD officer hires to his newly approved budget.
The City Council voted to devote $170 million to add new uniformed officers to the police force while including reforms in overtime and civilianization that will allegedly generate $70 million in savings once phased in. The new officers will be directed to neighborhood policing and the NYPD’s counter-terror efforts.
“We’re strengthening the NYPD’s ranks, devoting new officers to counter-terror work and neighborhood policing, while securing vital fiscal reforms in overtime and civilianization,” stated de Blasio. “We are also making critical investments in our renewal schools, libraries and so much more. Thank you to Speaker Mark-Viverito, Chair Ferreras-Copeland and all of their colleagues in the council for their partnership as we reached this agreement.”
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams heaped praise upon the de Blasio administration for changing its mind on adding new officers, a point of contention for months in the aftermath of high-profile police brutality.
“In recent weeks, I have argued to lawmakers and the public that additional hiring is needed to bolster our efforts in counter-terrorism and to put more patrol officers on our street corners for meaningful interactions with the public,” said Adams. “It is great to see both sides of City Hall value the advancement of community-police relations with an investment that I believe will result in a safer and more united city.”
According to Communities United for Police Reform spokesperson Monifa Bandele, Adams might want to slow down on the “united city” thing. In a statement, Bandele said the move signaled that de Blasio is more worried about getting political points than fixing systemic issues.
“This deal to increase the NYPD headcount seems like politics at its worst, and is not in the best interest of the safety or long-term needs of our communities,” said Bandele. “It’s disappointing and perplexing that the city budget will increase the NYPD headcount when systemic problems with police accountability and culture that allow New Yorkers to be abused and killed have yet to be fixed—and while major needs in our communities are under-resourced.”
But de Blasio pushed this new development as a positive for New Yorkers and the communities that the officers are supposed to serve. He expressed belief that if done right, this could lead everyone on the road to reconciliation.
“The vision is to have police deeply connected to neighborhoods,” de Blaiso told reporters after the budget announcement. “Officers who will walk a beat, get to know a community, get to know community leaders and clergy, have a real familiarity with the needs of the community, and build trust.”
Bandele said “Nothing that the NYPD has undertaken—decreases in the overall number of reported stops, expansion of body cameras and retraining—equate to lasting, systemic reform. Our communities are still being hurt by discriminatory and abusive policing, and the mayor and council need to take steps to address this in a meaningful way. The Right to Know Act, zero tolerance for police brutality and ending discriminatory ‘broken windows’ policing are stalled, but are part of what will be essential to achieving real systemic change.”