NEW YORK — The New York City budget unveiled Wednesday was notable for its role in the city’s COVID-19 recovery, but also because of the way in which it addressed a year’s worth of protests for police reform and calls to decrease or defund police departments, including in New York.
While defunding the NYPD was a major issue around last year’s budget negotiations following the death of George Floyd and the summer of unrest that followed, NYPD funding increased in the newest budget.
Mayor Bill de Blasio and city councilmembers said part of the funding will go to much needed IT upgrades for the department, as well as overtime payments. While they said officials worked to address overtime costs, they could not be fully reduced, though they said they were decreased in a substantial way.
Ileana Mendez-Penate, who’s spent the last year working with Communities United for Police reform to encourage the city to reduce the NYPD’s budget, said she’s frustrated lawmakers increased the department’s budget.
“It’s really disappointing to hear that the council is celebrating this budget because it feels like they are really out of touch,” she said.
Protests broke out across the city — and the nation — over the last year calling for the defunding of police
Last summer, activists occupied the park outside City Hall for days, calling for the NYPD budget to be slashed by $1 billion.
On the campaign trail, progressive Democratic candidates for mayor vowed to cut the budget; virtually all Democratic candidates discussed some type of police reform.
Dianne Morales proposed a $3 billion NYPD budget cut on the campaign trail, the largest cut — aside from the one proposed by Paperboy Prince, who has stated a desire to abolish the police.
Policing changes have been a large proponent of Maya Wiley’s campaign. She wants to eliminate the next two classes of police cadets as part of a plan to shift money from the NYPD budget. She vowed to cut the department’s budget by $1 billion.
With those resources, Wiley wants to bring trauma-informed care to New York City schools and double the amount of summer youth employment opportunities in communities with high rates of gun violence.
“That brings violence down and sends graduation rates up, and that’s what we want in this city, we want a win-win,” she said.
Mayoral race frontrunner Eric Adams said on the PIX11 Morning News “the magic word is ‘trust.” He previously spent over two decades with the transit police and NYPD.
The local leader believes trust needs to be rebuilt between communities and the police in a multitude of ways, including diversifying the police force.
Additionally, Adams said local community leaders should be able to interview their precinct commanders and review their records.
But neither Adams, nor close-second place candidate Kathryn Garcia, said they support decreasing the NYPD’s budget.
Andrew Yang was careful to say the NYPD must balance reform and public safety, even suggesting not defunding, but increasing support to the anti-Asian Hate Crime Taskforce.
“In the context of the NYPD Budget it’s not a meaningful investment,” Yang said. “You can easily shift resources to that sort of task force.”
He has not come out in favor of cutting the budget altogether, though.
A May PIX11 poll overwhelmingly found New Yorkers do not want to defund the NYPD, as shootings are surging in the city and country. There have also been several high-profile subway crimes.
Thirty-five percent of New Yorkers want to keep the police budget the same. Nearly the same amount wanted to see a budget increase. Only 30% wanted to see an NYPD budget decrease.
As of Wednesday, ranked choice voting data showed Adams, Wiley and Garcia in a category of their own as the top three candidates for City Hall.
New York City crime rates rose in recent months; shootings were up 166% year over year in April, according to NYPD data. Shootings were up 73% in May 2021, compared to May 2020.