De Blasio and City Council Reach Deal to Hire 1,300 New Police Officers

Members of a 2014 class of the New York Police Department. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
Members of a 2014 class of the New York Police Department. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito have reached a deal to add 1,300 new officers to the NYPD, a city official confirmed tonight—a significant win for the Council, which had sought 1,000 new officers, and a concession from the mayor, who had argued for more than a year that the department’s headcount was high enough.

The news of the 1,300 figure was first reported by the Associated Press, and a city official confirmed the report to the Observer. The mayor and speaker are expected to make a formal announcement—and stage the annual budget handshake photo opp—shortly.

The Council first asked for the extra cops in last year’s budget—months before the death of Eric Garner thrust policing into the city’s political spotlight. Republicans and moderate Democrats in the Council have long supported police, many of whom call their districts home. Progressives in the Council, meanwhile, have said additional officers will allow for better “community policing”—though some left-wing activists have knocked the Council for proposing to increase the size of a police force they believe needs to be overhauled.

There were pressures outside the Council on Mr. de Blasio to reach a deal. Last year, his Police Commissioner Bill Bratton issued the company line and said the department did not need the extra officers. That changed a few months after last year’s budget was adopted, with Mr. Bratton saying his re-engineering of the department had determined he’d need at least 1,000 new officers, if not more. During budget negotiations, he has often said he believed the mayor would reach an agreement to add some officers.

Still other factors were even further beyond the mayor’s control, including a spike in shootings last year and a recent rise in crime, particularly gang-related gunplay, as the city heads into the summer—which some Council members have pointed to as further reason for the extra officers.

(The mayor has sought to downplay recent crime spikes and has argued week-to-week crime statistics are misleading. Tonight, his press secretary Karen Hinton e-mailed reporters with highlights from this week’s crime statistics—noting the week saw “only 17 shootings and three murders,” a 56 percent drop in shootings and a 75 percent drop in murders.)

The NYPD’s headcount has been shrinking in recent years; the department has 6,000 fewer police officers than it did before the September 11, 2001 terror attacks. In the meantime, the department’s overtime budget has grown—but Ms. Mark-Viverito has argued the city could save money on overtime costs if more officers were on the job.

The increased NYPD headcount was the biggest ask from the Council this year.

The city is legally required to adopt a budget by June 30. After today’s agreement, budget documents will be printed and the City Council will be given time to review them before voting on the budget and making it official—which, like today’s hand shake, also typically happens late in the night. De Blasio and City Council Reach Deal to Hire 1,300 New Police Officers