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Redirecting NYPD Funds

By Robert Pena

On June 30,2020 Mayor Bill de Blasio and the New York City Council agreed to approve the $88.19 billion budget that includes $1 billion in cuts for the New York Police Department.

NYPD’s $1 billion reduction for the fiscal year 2021 will take away money from the law enforcement agency and distribute funds to a combination of New York City agencies.

“From reinvesting funds from the NYPD in youth programming and social services, to building new community centers, this budget prioritizes our communities most in need while keeping New Yorker safe,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio in a press release. “As we emerge from the epicenter of COVID-19, it’s now more important than ever to create a fairer city for all.”

The NYPD’s revised budget will focus on maintaining patrol strength. Reductions include $325.2 million for uniform and civilian overtime. July Police Academy class and the NYPD’s fiscal year 2021 cadet classes will be both cancelled for a savings of $55 million and $4.2 million respectively. Forty-two million will be saved by moving 165 Traffic Enforcement Agents to enforcement while a hiring freeze on non-safety positions will save $5 million.

The concept of “defund the police” refers to the idea of redirecting some NYPD department funds towards essential services that are underfunded: education, youth programs, social services and care.

Police Benevolent Association President Patrick J. Lynch did not agree with the decision. “Mayor de Blasio’s message to New Yorkers today was clear: you will have fewer cops on your streets,” said Lynch. “Shootings more than doubled again last week. Even right now, the NYPD doesn’t have enough staffing to shift cops to one neighborhood without making another neighborhood less safe. We will say it again: the mayor and the City Council have surrendered the city to lawlessness. Things won’t improve until New Yorkers hold them responsible.”

Reinvesting of funds from the NYPD for Youth Programs and Social Services Fiscal Year 2021

Peter Moskos, chair of the Department of Law, Police Science, Criminal Justice Administration and professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice believes cutting funds from the NYPD was not handled properly and that it penalizes the department. He said there should have been better communication between the mayor and City Council with the NYPD to address the cuts instead of making quick decisions. “This was sort of vindictive and mean and done without any consultation with the NYPD,” said Moskos. “They will be able to survive but won’t be able to do as good of a job.”

In a virtual meeting held on June 30,2020, New York City Councilmembers approved the budget by a vote of 32 to 17. Councilmembers expressed their opinions on why they are supporting this budget and where the funding needs to be redirected.

Councilmembers Rafael Salamanca Jr. from District 17 and Deborah Rose from District 49 were both supported the revised budget. “This budget makes a direct investment in the lives of 100,000 New York City youth,” said Rose in the virtual hearing.” She said the budget helps to restore funding in areas in youth programs like SYEP, summer camp, and afterschool programs.

Rafael Salamanca Jr. also advocated for funding that would go directly towards saving programs and initiatives. “Summer youth employment and youth programs, health care services, housing and anti-eviction services, food insecurities, senior services and education to say the least.”

Francisco Moya, District 21 councilmember, and Farah N Louis, District 45 councilmember, were also in favor of the budget modifications. “I am proud we are able to restore SYEP, corner stone beacon, CUNY ASAP, increase fair student funding, provide housing assistance, guidance counselors and social workers jobs,” said Louis.

During the hearing, Moya advocated for immigrant family’s services, an adult literacy program and a day labor workforce initiative. “I said publicly as the budget cut negotiations began that I wouldn’t support a budget that gutted things like education, immigrant and social services but instead the NYPD.”

Councilmembers Margaret S. Chin of District 1, Ritchie J. Torres of District 15 and Vanessa L. Gibson of District 16 voted to approve the budget in the virtual meeting. Chen said that the focus of the budget needed to be on providing for youth by investing in programs that are already in place. “They are our future,” said Chin. “This is the mission that we have to continue.”

Richie J. Torres said the budget needed to pass. “As a councilmember who represents some of the poorest communities in the city, I do not have the luxury of pointing against critical investments in education inequity,” he said.

Gibson said systemic policing reforms would allow for more investments in restorative justice work, holistic services, healing centers, trauma care and social emotional learning for children.

Communities United for Police Reform and partner organizations created an ad calling for the City Council and the mayor to cut the NYPD budget in order to help communities of color. Frontline activists and actors like Billy Porter, Mark Ruffalo, Claude Copeland, along with a handful of other actors, were a part of the ad. “We are asking you to prioritize education, healthcare and social services in this year’s city budget.”

With state and local governments each year spending millions of dollars on law enforcement there will now be change starting in New York City. At least 13 other cities across the United Sates will be following the footsteps of NYC in defunding the police and reinvesting those funds to services that are in need.

 

 

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