(NY DAILY NEWS) – The city will take an unspecified sum out of the NYPD’s budget and spend it on youth and social services, Mayor de Blasio said Sunday, in an attempt to address one of the biggest demands to come out of the past week’s protests.
“We are committed to shifting resources to ensure that the focus is on our young people,” Hizzoner said at a press conference. “We will only do it in a way that we are certain continues to ensure that this city will be safe.”
He declined to state which part of the NYPD’s colossal $6 billion yearly budget will be targeted, or specify which youth and social programs will get funds.
The announcement grew out of talks between de Blasio and members of the City Council’s Black, Latino and Hispanic Caucus.
For weeks, members of the group have objected to the mayor’s revised budget, which inflicted steep cuts on the popular Summer Youth Employment Program and Department of Education while keeping the NYPD’s budget mostly intact. The city is facing an expected budget shortfall of about $9 billion due to loss of tax revenue amid the coronavirus pandemic.
But the past week’s protests over the death of George Floyd, in which activists and elected officials called for “defunding” the NYPD, led de Blasio to revise his previous opposition to cutting the police budget.
Ahead of the June 30 deadline for the city budget, Council members and the mayor’s office will take a “deep dive” to identify cuts, said Councilman Daneek Miller (D-Queens), who co-chairs the BLAC caucus.
He said he’ll eye areas like mental health services that other agencies could conduct, along with overtime pay and what he described as “militarized equipment,” for possible cuts.
The budget discussion amounts to a look at the very purpose of the NYPD, Miller said.
“What does it cost and is it really necessary?” he said of budget line items. “Is that model of policing consistent with this Council and this progressive city that we live in?”
Councilman Donovan Richards (D-Queens) has called for $50 million in NYPD cuts, saying this year’s Police Academy class should be cancelled, among other steps.
“This is a historic moment where we can actually restructure the NYPD,” he said. “We want them to get back to the community policing model, but it doesn’t mean they have to be heavily involved in social issues that communities need to resolve.”
In light of years of Council hearings in which NYPD officials were reluctant to share details of their opaque budget, both Miller and Richards said they have a tough road ahead.
“Power does not relinquish power without struggle,” Miller said. “But based on the discourse and the current events, we’re looking at the world a lot differently.”