Speaker Corey Johnson and seven other City Council leaders firmly embraced the “Defund Police” movement Friday, calling for $1 billion in cuts to the NYPD’s $6 billion budget.
“We believe that we can and should work to get to $1 billion in cuts to New York City’s police spending in the Fiscal 2021 budget, an unprecedented reduction that would not only limit the scope of the NYPD, but also show our commitment towards moving away from the failed policing policies of the past,” Johnson (D-Manhattan) announced late Friday.
He was joined by Majority Leader Laurie Cumbo (D-Brooklyn), Democratic Conference Chair Robert Cornegy (D-Brooklyn), co-chairs of the Black, Latino and Asian Caucus I. Daneek Miller (D-Queens) and Adrienne Adams (D-Queens), as well as Finance Committee Chair Daniel Dromm (D-Queens), Capital Budget Subcommittee Chair Vanessa Gibson (D-Bronx), and Public Safety Committee Chair Donovan Richards (D-Queens).
“There is no doubt that this is an ambitious goal, but it is one that the time we are in calls for — both here in New York City and nationwide,” the elected officials said.
New York City activists — fueled by the police-involved killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis — have been demanding the $1 billion slash to the NYPD coffers.
The lawmakers claim they’ve already identified ways to slash the law enforcement budget by “reducing uniform headcount through attrition, cutting overtime, shifting responsibilities away from the NYPD, finding efficiencies and savings in OTPS spending, and lowering associated fringe expenses.”
City Councilman Joe Borelli (R-Staten Island) said the cuts would do more harm than good.
“I am still trying to figure out how cutting uniformed headcount changes any police accountability policy, or ends racism, or does anything the protesters were demanding. It’s reducing the number of new hires, the majority of whom will statistically be people of color,” Borelli said.
The NYPD is a majority minority police force.
Police Benevolent Association President Patrick J. Lynch decried the move.
“For decades, every time a city agency failed at its task, the city’s answer was to take the job away and give it to the NYPD,” he said.
“If the City Council wants to give responsibilities back to those failing agencies, that’s their choice. But they will bear the blame for every new victim, for every New Yorker in need of help who falls through the cracks. They won’t be able to throw cops under the bus anymore.”
Ed Mullins, president of the Sergeants Benevolent Association, called the budget slash counterproductive.
“If the City Council is calling for a $1 billion cut in the NYPD budget then let them have it. Ultimately they are not taking money from the NYPD but rather the safety of the citizens of New York City. Just make sure all those council members who vote it through own it, sign their names to it and tell all residents they did it and not the police officers in the street,” Mullins said.
Both Mayor Bill de Blasio and First Deputy Police Commissioner Benjamin Tucker have rejected the figure as too high. Tucker testified before the City Council earlier this week that the amount would be “seriously harmful to the department and the city.”
“The mayor has said we’re committed to reprioritizing funding and looking for savings, but he does not believe a $1 billion cut is the way to maintain safety,” de Blasio spokeswoman Freddi Goldstein said of the Council proposal.
De Blasio has said that he will shift an unspecified amount of NYPD funds to youth services at the behest of his wife.
The mayor and council members must agree on a balanced budget by the end of June.
“We will continue to work closely with City Hall during discussions around the NYPD budget,” a police spokeswoman responded