New York City moved to cut $1 billion from the New York Police Department (NYPD) and reallocate millions of dollars to fund public housing and community services. The move comes amid national calls for police reform following the deaths of unarmed black men and women, including George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, at the hands of police.
City lawmakers passed an $88 billion budget late Tuesday night. According to CBS New York, more than $400 million slashed from the police department will be earmarked for summer youth programs, education, and family and social services. Another $500 million will be shifted toward youth recreation centers while $87 million will be used to expand broadband in New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) houses.
As a result, the NYPD’s Police Academy class next month of more than 1,100 recruits has been canceled, saving $85.6 million, reports The New York Daily News. In addition, overtime will be reduced and cops will no longer act as crossing guards, school safety, or perform homeless outreach services. Instead, those duties will be handled by other agencies.
“We found a way to keep our patrol strength consistent and keep people safe, while saving a lot of money and reducing overtime costs,” said New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Shaun Commodore, the tenant association president at the Carver Houses, a public housing development in Spanish Harlem, praised the move. “That is most deserving for all NYCHA developments,” he told PIX 11. He added that he hopes the Carver Houses will receive some of the funding promised to NYCHA. His ultimate dream is to open up a community center. “I would love it. I have so many visions for the money here.”
However, critics say the budget cut does not go far enough. Public Advocate Jumaane Williams says he doesn’t support it because it doesn’t include an NYPD hiring freeze.
“They’re saying that we can’t hire new teachers, we can’t hire new guidance counselors, new social work. We can’t do anything in this city except add on 1,000 police officers. That is the wrong message that we are sending,” Williams said.
Cuts to the police department were announced as protesters continue an ongoing “Occupy City Hall” demonstration. The NYPD, which is the largest force in the US, had a nearly $6 billion budget for the 2020 fiscal year.
“Protesters have not gotten what they want yet and they’re going to continue to fight until they do,” Nina Demeo told CBS New York.