The NYPD will freeze hiring of new police officers for the foreseeable future as part of “extremely painful” city budget cuts set to be unveiled by Mayor Adams on Thursday, the Daily News has learned.
The freeze, part of a 5% city government-wide spending cut baked into the mayor’s November budget modification plan, will bring Police Academy classes to a halt at a time when the NYPD’s uniformed ranks remain well below pre-pandemic levels, two sources briefed on the matter said Wednesday. According to department data, there are currently 33,541 NYPD officers — 1,460 fewer than the 35,001 the department is budgeted for and 2,748 fewer than the 36,461 on the beat in 2019.
At the same time, major felonies in the city were up in the fiscal year that ended June 30 — the most recent 12-month stretch for which there is comprehensive data — a trend driven by spikes in grand larcenies, robberies and car thefts, among other categories, though murders and rapes dropped in the same period. As compared to the same time last year, the major felony crime rate in the city is effectively flat as of this week, police data shows.
The police hiring restrictions mark a major concession by Adams, who has in past rounds of city spending trims largely avoided putting a damper on the NYPD. As a mayoral candidate, Adams made public safety the cornerstone of his 2021 campaign and vowed to beef up the NYPD ranks.
Patrick Hendry, president of the Police Benevolent Association, the NYPD’s largest union, said the mayor’s decision to suspend police hiring will “turn the NYPD staffing crisis into a public safety disaster.”
“Our police officers are being worked to exhaustion, and 911 response times are already rising,” Hendry said, referencing data showing police response times surged in the last fiscal year. “What is going to happen when no reinforcements arrive for months on end? Cutting cops puts New Yorkers at risk, period.”
Emails to the NYPD for comment about the looming hiring pause were not immediately returned Wednesday. Adams spokesman Charles Lutvak declined to comment, but pointed to remarks the mayor made Tuesday, in which he hinted that his expected budget update will hamper the NYPD.
“When we look at around police, what the numbers of our police officers are going to be … it’s going to be extremely painful for New Yorkers,” the mayor said in a briefing at City Hall while discussing Thursday’s budget announcement.
Calling it “probably one of the most painful exercises I’ve gone through,” Adams told reporters in the Tuesday briefing that the belt-tightening is required to offset the hundreds of millions of dollars the city has spent on sheltering and providing services for the tens of thousands of migrants who have arrived since last year.
“That’s why we continue to say we need help,” he said, referring to the federal government, which he has for months blasted for not doing more to help the city accommodate the influx of migrants.
In an appearance on CBS2 on Wednesday night, Adams declined to get into specifics about the coming cuts, but said: “I’m not going to do anything that’s going to impact public safety in this city.”
Thursday’s budget update is also expected to order that the FDNY slash all overtime spending and end any after-work training sessions and Ceremonial Unit activities with the exception of department funerals, a source with knowledge of the matter said.
FDNY reps did not immediately return a request for comment.
Citing the migrant crisis, Adams implemented a hiring freeze across city government in October, but agencies that deal with public safety and health have so far been exempt.
When the new budget update goes into effect, the public safety exemption ends, the sources briefed on the matter told The News.
First Deputy Mayor Sheena Wright said at Tuesday’s briefing that the budgetary fallout from the November modification won’t be limited to agencies dealing with public safety. “Every single agency is going to feel the impact of these cuts, and New Yorkers are going to feel it, top to bottom,” she said.
The Council has the power to block aspects of a November budget modification.
Council Speaker Adrienne Adams, whose Democratic caucus clashed intensely with the mayor over the municipal budget adopted over the summer, told reporters at City Hall on Wednesday that she hasn’t received a full briefing on the November modification when asked about the NYPD hiring freeze.
But the speaker said that what she has heard from the mayor “thus far doesn’t really bode well” and reiterated concerns raised by Council Democrats about the efficiency of the Adams administration’s migrant crisis spending.
“We’ve got serious concerns about potential cuts to city agencies and nonprofits that support the city so effectively or that the city relies on, as well as the exorbitant spending on for-profit companies that have been a really heavy part of … the administration’s spending on asylum seekers,” she said. “But we are waiting for that in-depth information once the full announcement is made.”
The mayor first announced in September that the November budget plan would include 5% cuts for all city agencies, though he did not share any details at the time on how exactly those trims would play out in practice.
Unless the city receives a lot more federal and state migrant crisis aid, Adams warned in September that he will likely move to enact an additional 5% government-wide cut in January and another 5% in April — proposals that progressive Democrats have said would effectively wreck the city’s social safety net.