Mayor Bill de Blasio has prided himself on ending the “budget dance,” but at least one back-and-forth has carried over from last year: The City Council is yet again urging Mayor Bill de Blasio to add funding for 1,000 new police officers to his preliminary budget.
“While the proposals in today’s budget are a good starting point, we are disappointed that the Administration did not include funding to increase the NYPD’s headcount. The Council believes that raising the headcount of NYPD is essential and we will be advocating it strongly this budget cycle,” Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Finance Chairwoman Julissa Ferreras said in a joint statement today.
Last year, Ms. Mark-Viverito and the council called for Mr. de Blasio to hire 1,000 new officers—something both Mr. de Blasio and Police Commissioner Bill Bratton opposed at the time. The new officers never made it into the fiscal year 2015 budget, which was adopted last June, nor are they in this proposed budget.
“It’s an ongoing discussion. As you know, Commissioner Bratton and his team have just finished their reengineering evaluation, and they’ve put forearm an initial plan. We’re having very serious discussions about that,” Mr. de Blasio said, and would include the City Council in them. “That’s not going to be ready until we get to the executive budget.”
Mr. de Blasio’s executive budget, a more finalized document, will be unveiled in April. One considerable difference this year compared is that Mr. Bratton has gone on record to the council as saying the department—which has 6,000 fewer cops than it did before September 11, 2001—needs more cops.
“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 during a September Council hearing. “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.”
Councilman David Greenfield said he believed move to add 1,000 more cops would be a main priority of the council’s—boosted by Mr. Bratton’s own comments.
“I think that’s going to be, for lack of a better term, a fight on our hands, especially considering that the commissioner has made it very clear that he does support more police officers,” Mr. Bratton said. “It certainly adds credibility to our argument, which is that we do need more police officers.”
Last year’s budget was adopted in late June, just weeks before Mr. de Blasio was embroiled in controversy over his relationship with law enforcement following the death of Eric Garner in NYPD custody on Staten Island. The landscape has shifted considerably since then—with police unions painting the mayor as someone who does not care about cops, and Mr. de Blasio in turn touting funding for the NYPD for things like increased training and new bulletproof vests.
Today, as he did in arguing against the increase in officers last year, Mr. de Blasio pointed to the city’s continually low crime rate: “I say, God bless the men and women of the NYPD for doing a great job.”
“There’s always work to be done, but a lot of the approach to be taken now is working with the resources we have,” Mr. de Blasio said, again harkening back to last year’s budget, which included increased overtime and moved some tasks to civilians to free up cops for walking the beat.
But Mr. de Blasio left the door open for adding more cops, at Mr. Bratton’s discretion.
“I have immense respect for Commissioner Bratton, and he thinks there’s some things that we can do to improve our long-range approach, to improve the relationship between police and community. We’re gonna look at that,” Mr. de Blasio said. “I don’t bias that discussion in advance. I’m gonna have that discussion with Commissioner Bratton his team, and with the City Council, and we’ll come back in April and let you know at that point what we think is a fair proposal.