#NYCBudgetJustice campaign's call is for the $1B to be cut in FY21
New York City is facing a massive fiscal shortfall and we recognize that painful cuts will have to be made. However Mayor de Blasio’s executive budget leaves the NYPD budget virtually untouched while calling for huge cuts in New York’s social and human services exactly when they are needed most, during a once-in-a-century humanitarian disaster.
The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated every measure of inequality in New York City, and cutting critical services while ignoring the NYPD creates yet another layer of unfairness in the city’s response to this pandemic. At a minimum, the NYPD should be cut at a rate similar to the cuts facing other agencies and programs. However we believe deeper savings are possible by making long-overdue cuts to areas of bloat and addressing poor policy choices that are funnelling our dollars away from social services.
A $1 billion dollar+ cut in the NYPD’s budget would allow significant restorations and expansions of critical services — a decisive step that is both fiscally prudent and morally necessary in this crisis. While a cut of over $1 billion may sound dramatic, it would simply return the NYPD’s budget to roughly 2014 levels — a moment when crime rates had already plummeted in New York City. Crime has continued to fall year over year, despite fear mongering about the impact of reducing stop-and-frisks, and other challenges to the status quo. It is difficult to conceive that a return to the NYPD’s already huge 2014 budget would have an deleterious effect on public safety. This is especially true when you define “public safety” as inclusive of the overall health, wellness, and sustainability of New York’s residents, who require — and deserve — so much more from their city government in this pandemic.
The NYPD’s current $6 billion dollar budget is larger than what we spend on health, homeless services, youth development, and workforce development combined. In this crisis, we have a moral obligation to divest from police department that has shown itself to be deeply troubled, and invest in SYEP, education, homeless services, mental health services, programs for the aging, community-based organizations, and provide direct support to frontline and essential workers, and undocumented New Yorkers.
Why Are We Calling For #NYCBudgetJustice?
In his FY2021 budget proposal, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio has called for devastating cuts to core social services, programs and infrastructure that are crucial to communities of color - and that have had a history of under-investment. This includes environmental programs, education, youth programs (e.g. the Summer Youth Employment Program) and other agencies. The NYPD budget however, is largely untouched and given special protections in the proposed executive budget.
In response, Communities United for Police Reform and CPR’s member and partner organizations are calling for a budget that does not give NYPD special treatment. Instead, we are calling for significant cuts to the NYPD's bloated almost $6B budget in order to protect and strengthen crucial services, programs and infrastructure we will need for an equitable transition in the COVID-19 period.
Major cuts to the NYPD budget can and should help to fund an equitable recovery from COVID-19, particularly for Black, Latinx and other communities of color (including our elders and youth) that have been most impacted by the pandemic.
Cuts to the NYPD budget that should be considered include:
NYPD hiring freeze (including School Safety Agents) – Many City agencies are facing hiring freezes in FY21, but there is no freeze proposed in the executive budget for policing.
Cancellation of cadet classes - There is no justification for additional cadet classes when schools are understaffed in terms of nurses, guidance counselors, social workers and other personnel crucial for building healthy learning environments for young people.
Cuts to NYPD’s expansion into non-police activities/social services (e.g. homeless outreach, mental health response, the new “youth initiative”, and social distancing outreach/enforcement). Moving this funding to the appropriate agency and relevant infrastructure (e.g. housing) is crucial for a just recovery.
Cuts related to abusive policing - The NYPD routinely keeps officers who have brutalized and even unjustly killed New Yorkers on payroll for years after incidents without any movement on disciplinary processes. For example, the officer who killed Eric Garner was kept on payroll for over 5 years after killing Eric, with taxpayers paying his salary and benefits the entire time. There are 220 NYPD officers currently on modified duty, many of whom should be considered for termination based on their abuse of New Yorkers. Instead, because the NYPD disciplinary system generally does not fire officers in a timely way for abusing New Yorkers, they are able to continue to collect taxpayer-funded salaries for years after incidents occur. This does not even include the millions each year related to judgements and settlements from police brutality lawsuits, which does not come out of the NYPD budget.
Cuts to other non-essential areas, including NYPD public relations/media budget and expansion of costly (& legally dubious) surveillance infrastructure. The NYPD budget is notoriously opaque and must be made more transparent for elected officials and the public to make decisions about what additional budget lines in the NYPD’s almost $6B budget should be considered for cuts.
On the eve of a budget showdown in New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio has announced that he will cut $1 billion in funding for the New York Police Department in an attempt to meet the demands of protesters who have occupied and marched on City Hall over the past week.
The specifics of his plan, however, are hard to come by, and police reform activists are concerned that the mayor will work with the city council to hide parts of the police budget in mandates for other social services.