Manhattan, NY – New York Mayor Bill de Blasio is seeking to defund the city’s police force by $1 billion, according to a new budget proposal he submitted to the city council on Monday.
De Blasio submitted the plan to slash the New York Police Department’s (NYPD) funding just one day ahead of the budget’s deadline, Bloomberg reported.
In addition to the $1 billion – which would come from the department’s operating expenses, de Blasio has also proposed stripping another $500 million in capital spending away from police.
The mayor did not announce how the NYPD will change due to the cuts – which he referred to as “savings” – but he mentioned that officers’ role in the school system could be among the affected programs, CBS News reported.
His plan also calls for two NYPD cadet classes to be eliminated, Gothamist reported.
De Blasio sidestepped when he was asked if he plans to retain all of the city’s 36,000 police officers, according to CBS News.
“Whatever we do in terms of headcount has to keep the city safe,” he said.
If the New York City Council agrees with his plan, the $1 billion stripped from the police budget will be redirected to youth programs and the city’s public housing system, de Blasio said.
According to the mayor, the NYPD helped him to arrive at the $1 billion figure.
“The NYPD did a hell a good job in saying, ‘Ok, here’s a bunch of things we could do while still keeping this city safe,” de Blasio told CBS News. “We need to redistribute revenue to communities that need it the most. We know our young people are hurting.”
He said that the financial shortfall caused by COVID-19 ended up presenting New York with “an unprecedented opportunity to change some things,” Bloomberg reported.
His plan came after weeks of rioting and looting throughout the city.
For the past week, hundreds of people have occupied the area outside City Hall, demanding that the NYPD be defunded.
“We’ve done different levels of escalation to make sure we’re getting their attention,” Occupy City Hall organizer Jonathan Lykes told CBS News. “If they defund the police by $1 billion then we have won – but that’s only our demand this week.”
Another protester said that abolishing the law enforcement and the entire prison system are among the group’s agenda items.
“We want racial injustice to end, and the means is that we stay here right now in this space,” he told CBS News. “It’s very clear that people want to stay past Tuesday and that people want to see police and prison abolition.”
Anti-police group VOCAL-NY blasted the mayor’s plan as a “betrayal” and argued that it did not do enough to eliminate police, AM New York Metro reported.
“New York City must eliminate the NYPD’s role in homeless services, schools, youth programs, overdose response, mental health response, and other social services and redirect those savings to housing, healthcare & social services that will be crucial to equitable COVID-19 recovery for Black, Latinx and other communities of color,” the group said in a statement.
“The deal as described does nothing close, preserving police resources and power — with not a single layoff among NYPD’s uniformed cops — and continues the Mayor’s initial budget proposal to starve the communities left devastated by the coronavirus crisis, the same communities targeted by historical and current police abuse,” the group complained.
Police Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch also blasted the massive cuts, arguing that the city is already experiencing an uptick in violence since the recent elimination of the NYPD’s plainclothes Anti-Crime Unit.
“We will say it again: the Mayor and the City Council have surrendered the city to lawlessness,” Lynch said in a statement to CBS News. “Things won’t improve until New Yorkers hold them responsible.”
Earlier this month, the total number of people shot in New York City in one week was up a staggering 414 percent compared to the same time last year.
“We have to make sure we can handle that,” de Blasio said of the sharp increase in shootings, which haven’t been seen at this level in at least 20 years.
Lynch argued that the number of officers out on the streets will decrease under the heavily-reduced budget.
“Mayor de Blasio’s message to New Yorkers today was clear: you will have fewer cops on your streets,” the union leader said, according to WNBC. “Shootings more than doubled again last week. Even right now, the NYPD doesn’t have enough manpower to shift cops to one neighborhood without making another neighborhood less safe.”
The NYPD currently operates on a $5.9 billion budget, Bloomberg reported.
De Blasio had already planned to pare it down to $5.6 billion prior to the riots and calls for defunding.
It is unclear whether or not the mayor included the previously-intended cut in his $1 billion figure.
The city’s budget must be approved by 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday, Bloomberg reported.
“I am excited to say that we have a plan that can achieve real reform, that can achieve real redistribution, and at the same time ensure that we keep our city safe, and we make sure that our officers are on patrol where we need them around this city,” de Blasio said, according to The Hill.