The City Council will offer up its response to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s budget on Tuesday—and once again, they will urge the mayor to hire 1,000 new police officers, a proposal he rejected a year ago.
“In order for NYPD to continue to keep New Yorkers safe while also implementing new reforms and initiatives we need to increase the overall headcount of the department. The Council’s plan to increase headcount while also including cost control measures is fiscally responsible and will go a long way towards ensuring public safety and better community relations,” Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said in a statement.
The hiring would cost $68.7 million in the next fiscal year, which begins July 1. It would cost another $95 million in fiscal 2017, $100 million in fiscal 2018, and $110 million in fiscal 2019. The total size of the budget Mr. de Blasio has proposed—which so far includes no new police officers—is $77.7 billion for fiscal year 2016.
Ms. Mark-Viverito and the Council first rolled out the proposal to hire 1,000 more officers a year ago—before the city was thrown into a prolonged and difficult conversation about police reform following the death of Eric Garner last July, as police officers wrestled him to the ground to arrest him for selling untaxed cigarettes.The Council, as well as others supportive of hiring more cops, have often noted that the department has 6,000 fewer officers today than it did before the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
The Council has proposed off-setting part of the cost of the pricey proposal by cutting NYPD overtime by $50 million annually. The department has spent an average of 40 percent more than budgeted on overtime over the last ten fiscal years, according to the Council, and department projections indicate it will spend $672 million on overtime this fiscal year—well above the $498.7 million that is budgeted in the fiscal year 2015 budget.
Mr. de Blasio rejected a similar proposal from the Council last year—despite arguments from the Council that the officers were needed for counter-terror work and new programs like Vision Zero, Mr. de Blasio’s stepped up traffic violation enforcement plan. In the wake of Garner’s death, which touched off a debate about broken windows and community policing, Council members have also argued that having more officers in local precincts—each having lost between 60 and 75 cops since 2001, according to the Council—would better community-police relations.
Last year, Police Commissioner Bill Bratton joined Mr. de Blasio in saying the city did not need more police officers. But last September—just months after last year’s budget was adopted in June—Mr. Bratton told the City Council he would indeed need more officers, perhaps more than they’d offered.
“I reported to you that we were in the process of re-engineering the organization, and we would be looking very carefully at what should the size of NYPD be, going forward, was it 1,000, 2,000?” Mr. Bratton said in September. “We are in the process of closing in on those numbers, that it will be in excess of 1,000 additional officers we will be looking for.”
Mr. Bratton has since said he’s optimistic the budget will include more police officers—even though Mr. de Blasio did not include any new cops in his preliminary budget released in February, and while he’s said his conversation with Mr. Bratton is ongoing, he has also continued to indicate that the police force is at an appropriate size. After a recent arrest of two people in Queens on terror charges earlier this month, Mr. de Blasio said he didn’t think the NYPD needed to bolster its ranks to deal with such threats.
“I think the fact that our police force has once again performed so well is an indication of how good it is in its current state,” Mr. de Blasio said.
Pressed by reporters on whether there had been any movement in his discussions with Mr. Bratton, Mr. de Blasio said the press would have to wait and see.
“I think we have been over this now for a year-and-a-quarter: we make budget announcements the day we make the budget announcement,” Mr. de Blasio said. “We don’t just give you hints. We actually make the budget announcement.”
Today, a spokeswoman said Mr. de Blasio’s comments “still hold.”
“The Executive Budget will come out this spring, and we look forward to working with the Council throughout the budget process,” spokeswoman Amy Spitalnick said in a statement.