Activists Blast Mayor and Speaker for Adding 1,300 NYPD Officers

Anti-police brutality protesters in New York City.  (Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Anti-police brutality protesters in New York City. (Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Accusing City Hall of practicing “politics at its worst,” liberal activists slammed Mayor Bill de Blasio and Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito tonight for their decision to hire 1,300 new police officers.

Communities United for Police Reform, a leading police reform group, the anti-Bill Bratton Coalition to End Broken Windows, and the Police Reform Organizing Project said adding new officers to the 35,000-member force would do nothing for–and perhaps worsen–the relationship between police and communities of color.

“This deal to increase the NYPD headcount seems like politics at its worst, and is not in the best interest of the safety or long-term needs of our communities,” said Monifa Bandele, a CPR spokesperson. “It’s disappointing and perplexing that the city budget will increase the NYPD headcount when systemic problems with police accountability and culture that allow New Yorkers to be abused and killed have yet to be fixed.”

CPR criticized City Hall’s stabs at police reform, including the expansion of body cameras and police retraining, for doing little to lead to “lasting, systemic reform.”

“Something is seriously wrong when the need for youth employment opportunities, real affordable housing and other critical needs remain unmet, and one of the most significant investments in our communities is more police,” Ms. Bandele added.

A vast majority of City Council members, including Ms. Mark-Viverito, have been pushing for new police officers since early 2014. The speaker argued that the increased headcount would allow more police to practice community policing–walking the beat more frequently to interact with neighbors and spending less time responding to emergency calls.

Though overall crime is down, a recent spike in shootings also seemed to motivate elected officials to support a stronger push for more police.

Some grassroots activists, particularly those affiliated with the thousands of protesters who flooded city streets over the past year following the Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Akai Gurley and Freddie Gray deaths, believe more reform must come to the NYPD before new officers are deployed in minority neighborhoods. (Ms. Mark-Viverito believes reform can happen in tandem with a larger force.)

“Void of any community discussion, forum or townhall on the issue, the supposedly ‘progressive’ mayor and council have agreed to appease commissioner Bratton to further bloat the NYPD–by far the largest and most-well resourced at police department in the country,” Josmar Trujillo, a spokesman for the Coalition to End Broken Windows, said in a statement.

He noted the 1,300 officers, 300 of which will be allotted for counter-terrorism, were more than the Council initially asked for.

“This mayor will go down in the history books as the man who campaigned on his bi-racial son’s promises, brought back Bratton and caved into the law and order politics that have plagued urban cities across the country,” Mr. Trujillo said.

The Police Reform Organizing Project, an NYPD watchdog group, called the decision to hire the new officers “truly terrible.” Like Mr. Trujillo, PROP has been highly critical of “broken windows,” a style of policing that prioritizes low-level, quality-of-life offenses.

“Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Council leaders have made a truly terrible decision to add 1300 or so new officers to the NYPD’s headcount,” said Robert Gangi, PROP’s director. “Rather than solve problems it will aggravate existing difficulties, deepening the racial, social, and economic inequities that plague our city and adding to the antagonism & distrust that communities of color already feel toward the police and the criminal justice system.”

Updated with comment from Mr. Gangi. 

Activists Blast Mayor and Speaker for Adding 1,300 NYPD Officers