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Police Accountability Advocates and NYC Council Members Call to Defund NYPD’s Role in Homelessness, Mental Health, Other Social Service Areas

New York – Today, at City Hall, members and leaders of Communities United for Police Reform (CPR), along with New York City Council Members and families whose loved ones have been killed by police officers, called for defunding the NYPD’s role in city government responses to homelessness, mental health, emotional distress, youth services, hate violence prevention, and other crises facing New Yorkers.

These are crises that should be addressed with social service and public health plans, not the NYPD and more policing, speakers today emphasized at a noon rally, ahead of a New York City Council public safety budget hearing.

They highlighted how the NYPD’s expanded role as a first responder for homelessness, mental health, emotional distress, and other human rights and social service crises has endangered New Yorkers, instead of protecting them. And they noted that the NYPD continues to use taxpayer dollars to keep officers found to engage in serious misconduct on the city's annual payroll.

“Reducing the NYPD’s role in and budget for responding to human rights and social service crises will help increase public safety and prevent the criminalization of New Yorkers living in distress. The NYPD's massive size and budget must be reduced to decrease their harm in communities across the city. Their continued budget growth is unjustifiable when they routinely refuse to discipline officers for misconduct and keep officers who have engaged in egregious misconduct on the city's payroll, year after year.  Reducing the NYPD's budget and removing them from playing inappropriate roles in social issues will allow for re-allocation of city budget dollars to community-based infrastructure, policies, and programs that will help New Yorkers in need of housing, mental health services, youth development and care, not policing,” said Anthonine Pierre, a leader of Communities United for Police Reform (CPR).

“Too often, our city turns to more policing as the solution to every problem. But not every problem is a nail, and the hammers of additional patrolling, surveillance, and arrests often create more damage than they solve. Tackling hate violence and discrimination in our city requires a real investment in education and building relationships of trust across communities. Addressing our city’s homelessness crisis requires more housing and support services, not more coercion by police in the subway. Safety in our schools requires more mental health services, not more suspensions. New York City should be increasing spending on the nuts and bolts that support communities, rather than more hammers,” said New York City Council Member Brad Lander.  

“The NYPD is not intended or equipped to address New York City’s social problems,” said Council Member Antonio Reynoso. “The NYPD should be contained to addressing public safety concerns, and the Department’s budget should reflect that. I join Communities United for Police Reform in demanding greater transparency around the NYPD’s budget and a reduction of the Department’s budget so that we can increase investment in comprehensive efforts to address the root causes of problems like mental health concerns and homelessness,” said New York City Council Member Antonio Reynoso.

“Young people of color continue to navigate growing up with robust social services, high quality educational opportunities, and access to housing and job opportunities that will allow them to thrive in the present and future. Instead of implementing a new NYPD "Youth Strategy" the City should reallocate funding from the NYPD's budget, remove the police and hardened security measures, and bring every school community, more guidance counselors, social workers, and mental health supports directly to students,” said Kesi Foster, Organizer, Make the Road New York.

“The story of the NYPD killing my son makes it clear why the NYPD has no place being first responders to those in emotional distress. They should be removed completely from this role and resources should go to mental health services and crisis responses that provide care and support for those in need, instead of treating them like criminals,” said Hawa Bah, mother of Mohamed Bah.

“NYPD Officer Wayne Isaacs murdered my brother, Delrawn Small, in cold blood in 2016. Since then, he has been collecting tens of thousands of dollars in pay increases and has not faced any discipline or accountability. Officers like Isaacs - who unjustly killed or brutalized New Yorkers - should be fired immediately and the NYPD budget, which is bloated by paying their salaries, must be cut,” said Victoria Davis, sister of Delrawn Small.

“The City's practice of throwing police at social, economic and public health issues is dangerous, ineffective and a gross misuse of funds. We need to minimize the role of police in New Yorkers' lives as much as possible, slash its budget, and invest those dollars into developing community-based, non-police responses to the challenges New Yorkers face,” said Simone Gamble, a member of Justice Committee. 


About Communities United for Police Reform

Communities United for Police Reform (CPR) is an unprecedented campaign to end discriminatory policing practices in New York, and to build a lasting movement that promotes public safety and reduces reliance on policing. CPR runs coalitions of over 200 local, statewide and national organizations, bringing together a movement of community members, lawyers, researchers and activists to work for change. The partners in this campaign come from all 5 boroughs, from all walks of life and represent many of those most unfairly targeted by the NYPD.