On Thursday, May 21, 2020, at a city council finance committee hearing, members and leaders of Communities United for Police Reform (CPR) called for deep NYPD budget cuts, and a redirection of resources toward underfunded city agencies that will need to play a large role in driving an equitable recovery for New Yorkers hit hardest by COVID-19. Written and oral comments were submitted by Communities United for Police Reform (CPR) and CPR Members from Audre Lorde Project; Arab American Association of NY; Brooklyn Movement Center; Girls for Gender Equity; Jews for Racial and Economic Justice; and Justice Committee.
NYC Budget Justice
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.
With New York City facing a $10 billion shortfall in tax revenues due to COVID-19, Mayor Bill de Blasio last month unveiled his plan for “painful” cuts to city services. His executive budget, set to be finalized with input from the City Council next month, calls for sweeping and immediate retrenchment — freezing new teacher hires, hobbling environmental initiatives, and cancelling the widely popular youth employment program.