New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has joined the nationwide calls to defund the police in response to the death of George Floyd, pledging for the first time after a week and a half of mass protests and violent riots to cut the New York Police Department (NYPD) funding to reallocate the funds to unspecified number of youth and social services programs.
“The details will be worked out in the budget process in the weeks ahead,” de Blasio confirmed during a news conference on Monday after first unveiling the plans on Sunday. “But I want people to understand that we are committed to shifting resources to ensure that the focus is on our young people. We will be moving funding from the NYPD to youth initiatives and social services, that will happen literally in the course of the next three weeks, but I’m not going to go into detail because it is subject to negotiation.”
The New York City Mayor declined to say exactly how much funding he planned to divert to social services, saying the details is being worked out at the moment and will be finalized with the City Council before the July 1 budget deadline.
In 2019, the NYPD’s budget was nearly $6 Billion, about 6 percent of the de Blasio’s proposed $90 billion budget. Last week, New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer sent a letter to de Blasio calling for a $265 million a year or $1 Billion over the next four fiscal years used for NYPD uniformed workforce through attrition, scaling back overtime and trimming Other Than Personnel Services (OTPS) and put the scaled back funds towards vulnerable communities most impacted by police violence and structural racism.
“The brutal, senseless murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery are the most recent reminders of the longstanding need for racial justice and reform in policing,” Stringer said in the letter. Breaking down structural racism in New York City will require long-term, lasting change — and that must include reducing the NYPD’s budget. If our budget is a reflection of our values, it is unconscionable that services for Black and Brown New Yorkers are on the chopping block while the NYPD’s budget remains almost entirely untouched. This is a bold and achievable roadmap to immediately cut millions and instead invest those critical dollars in underserved communities and the programs that will uplift those New Yorkers who need it most.”
The four-point police reform measures de Blasio announced includes removing the 50-A reform, a law that shields police personnel records confidential from the public view, shifting vendor enforcement responsibilities away from the NYPD to further reduce “interactions between officers and New Yorkers, particularly immigrant communities and communities of color,” and hiring “community ambassadors” that will serve as liaisons between officers and New Yorkers.
“These will be the first of many steps my Administration will take over the next 18 months to rebuild a fairer City that profoundly addresses injustice and disparity,” de Blasio said in a statement.
De Blasio said the initiatives were developed as part of his task force on racial inclusion and equity that is co-chaired by his wife, Chirlane McCray.
Since the protests that has ravaged the streets of New York, de Blasio has come under withering criticism for strongly defending the NYPD and opposing any cuts to the force. As recently as Friday, during a City Hall press briefing, de Blasio dismissed the idea of such cuts.
“For folks who say defund the police, I would say that is not the way forward,” de Blasio stated at a Friday briefing. “I do not believe it’s a good idea to reduce the budget of the agency that’s here to keep us safe.”
When asked about defund the police calls, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said on Monday that disbanding or stripping entire police departments would lead to even more looting, a problem that New York City has been dealing with during the protests.
“But no police? You get looting,” Cuomo said. “That’s what you get. Nobody wants that.”
Other cities have also caved to these demands of protestors to defund the police. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti (D) vowed to slash between $100 million to $150 million from the proposed funding.
Meanwhile, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey (D) was met with a chorus of boos on Saturday after telling a group of protestors that he did not support the calls to defund or abolish the city’s police department.