Shortchanged Again

No local police department is more engaged in fighting terrorism than the New York Police Department. The NYPD has a thousand officers dedicated to fighting not local criminals, but the nation’s enemies. Some of them are deployed overseas, where they work in collaboration with national security agencies.

You’d think the federal government would be grateful for this commitment of manpower and brainpower. And maybe the feds are, in fact, thankful–but they certainly have an odd way of showing it.

For the fifth year in a row, New York received zero dollars when the U.S. Department of Justice distributed $298 million in grants last week. Nearly 400 police agencies around the country received federal assistance, but not a dollar of it went to the nation’s largest police force.

Nobody would ever suggest that New York deserves more than its fair share of federal funding. But it would be nice for a change if the city were treated fairly in the distribution of federal funding. It’s an old story, to be sure, but it is all the more urgent at a time when terrorists would like nothing more than to strike New York again.

New York’s commitment to fighting global terrorism is not without self-interest. But it is also not without sacrifice. The city’s treasury isn’t bare, but it isn’t flush, either. As a result, the head count in the NYPD has been allowed to shrink from a high of more than 40,000 officers a decade ago to about 33,000 now. Perhaps not coincidentally, the murder rate has begun to creep up for the first time in years.

New York worked hard to become one of the safest large cities in the world. It is working equally hard to make sure that residents and visitors alike are protected from the scourge of global terrorism.

Washington ought to recognize those efforts not with lip service, but with cash. Our two U.S. senators and our Congressional delegation should be making this point, loudly, during this campaign season.

editorial@observer.com