NEW YORK CITY — Following Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Sunday pledge to shift some of the NYPD’s budget to youth and social services, Commissioner Dermot Shea warned cuts could hurt New Yorkers.
De Blasio did not specify how much the NYPD could lose, though advocates continue to call for the defunding of the nation’s largest police department.
Shea agreed funding youth programs is important, but he also said the city cannot go back to the era of the ’80s and ’90s when crime was out of control.
“As we speak, homicides are up 25% and shootings are up 20%,” he said. “The cuts will affect the people who need the services the most.”
With those comments, Shea seemed to backtrack on Sunday’s message to PIX11, that he was “1,000% behind” a funding cut.
If enacted, sources tell PIX11 the cut could force the department to implement a hiring freeze. But according to New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer, the NYPD’s current uniformed headcount is 36,361, the highest it’s been since 2002, with the exception of 2018.
Sources also told PIX11 a budget cut could force the NYPD to pull resources from public schools.
Many advocates, though, have insisted the NYPD’s presence in public schools is part of the problem, as reported in THE CITY last week.
A cut could also impact NYPD homeless outreach and the officers placed at district attorneys offices, sources said.
Major crime investigations would likely not be affected, nor would the fight against terrorism, those sources said.
Since 1980, the NYPD’s budget has increased more than 150%, and in 2019, was $5.6 billion.
Community members and activists want to cut the department’s budget by about $1.1 billion, with the funds reallocated to youth programs, education, social services and homeless services.
Protesters have advocated for cuts to police budgets amid calls to end police brutality and systemic racism.
At a public memorial of George Floyd in Brooklyn on Thursday, Stringer made an impassioned plea to reduce NYPD funding.
“The numbers say we spend $6 billion on policing. We don’t spend anywhere near that on our community-based organizations,” Stringer said. “Don’t back down. This is your city. This is your opportunity.”
City Councilmember Donovan Richards, who heads the public safety committee, called for defunding last week.
DON’T STOP MARCHING. Now is the time to DEFUND the police. The PEOPLE UNITED shall never be DEFEATED. Investment in underserved communities needs to be this cities and @NYCMayor priority!!!
— Donovan Richards (@DRichards13) June 7, 2020
An open letter signed by NYC Educators for Justice called for “drastic increases to public school and social service budgets, and sharp cuts to the NYPD’s budget.”
Sunday, a majority of the members of the Minneapolis City Council said they support disbanding the city’s police department.
The aggressive stance comes as the state has launched a civil rights investigation after Floyd’s death.
Nine of the council’s 12 members appeared with activists at a rally in a city park Sunday afternoon and vowed to end the department under the current system. A complete remaking of the department is likely to unfold in coming months.
Nationwide and in New York City, protesters have become enraged by Floyd’s death, another black man killed at the hands of police.
Demonstrators have gathered and marched for weeks, calling for an end to police brutality, use of force and systemic racism in America.
Floyd died when now-former officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for over eight minutes following reports Floyd had allegedly used a counterfeit $20 bill.
Chauvin, who is white, has been charged with second-degree murder. Three other officers who were at the scene, and stood by as Floyd died, were charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder.
Associated Press and Aliza Chasan contributed.