Nolan Hicks and Kenneth Garger
Wednesday, July 1, 2020
City Council Passes $88.1 BILLION Budget with $1 BILLION in Cuts to NYPD
Nolan Hicks and Kenneth Garger
The New York City Council passed the city’s $88.1 billion budget just after midnight Wednesday with hopes to solve the Big Apple’s $9 billion budget shortfall — in part by slashing NYPD spending by $1 billion.
The deal became official once Councilwoman Deborah Rose (D-Staten Island) became the 26th council member to vote in favor of the budget — representing a majority of the 51-person legislative body.
“Today is not a day of celebration, we are not in a time of celebration, it is the time of necessity and today’s budget agreement is one of necessity,” Council Speaker Corey Johnson said following the vote.
“Heart-wrenching, impossible choices had to be made. It was not easy,” Johnson added.
The substantial cuts to the NYPD came in response to demonstrations seeking to defund the department in the wake of George Floyd’s death at the hands of police in Minneapolis.
The effects will include, in part, reducing overtime by $352 million and trimming the size of the police force by 1,163 cops, which Mayor Bill de Blasio insisted would not decrease public safety despite a recent surge in shootings.
A large chunk of the NYPD cuts — $349.5 million — was realized by transferring the department’s school safety and crossing guard functions to other city agencies.
Johnson promised the shift was indicative of a larger policy shift in how schools and students are policed.
The budget passed by a final vote of 32-17, with one member absent and another seat empty.
One of the most shocking votes of the night was cast by Councilman Donovan Richards (D-Queens), who voted against the budget deal.
“My concern with this budget is not just about the $1 billion cut, but more about the NYPD’s culture,” said Richards, chairman of the committee that oversees the NYPD and the prohibitive favorite to become the next Queens borough president.
“A $1 billion budget cut can’t address the racism that runs rampant in the NYPD,” he said.
“We must send a clear message that it’s not okay to kettle peaceful protesters, that it’s not okay to place black and brown New Yorkers in a chokehold as they gasp for air.”
Added Richards: “We must send a clear message that it’s not okay to shoot unarmed black men like Sean Bell and Ramarley Graham.”
Councilman I. Daneek Miller (D-Brooklyn) voted in favor of the budget, but voiced his opposition to downsizing the NYPD.
“Black folks want to be safe like everyone else, we just want to be respected,” Miller said. “We can’t allow folks from outside our community to lecture us about black lives and what we need in our communities.”
Johnson said he was ultimately “disappointed” with the budget, saying he wanted deeper cuts to the NYPD and a larger reduction of its force.
“This is a budget process that involves the mayor who would not budge on these items,” the speaker said.
Hizzoner has maintained that the cuts wouldn’t “undermine our counterterrorism capacity” in a city that is a constant target and where just last month, a man attacked cops while shouting “Allahu Akhbar” in Brooklyn.
“It won’t be easy. We’re asking a lot of the NYPD, but the NYPD is up to the mission. I don’t have a doubt in my mind,” the mayor said. “They will find a way to be more effective and efficient, they have for years, and they will keep us safe.”