Blaz to chop NYPD by $1.5B, shift funds

New York Daily News - - NEWS - BY MICHAEL GARTLAND AND SHANT SHAHRIGIAN

This year’s city bud­get will have some­thing for nearly ev­ery­one to hate.

Af­ter weeks of de­mands that City Hall make sig­nif­i­cant cuts to the NYPD’s bud­get, Mayor de Bla­sio on Mon­day touted a range of cuts to the NYPD but said New York could still be forced to lay off mu­nic­i­pal work­ers as early as Oc­to­ber.

He com­mit­ted to $1 bil­lion in cuts to the NYPD’s op­er­at­ing bud­get and promised an­other $500 mil­lion in cap­i­tal fund­ing would be re­al­lo­cated from po­lice projects to youth and pub­lic hous­ing pro­grams.

The changes come on top of $8 bil­lion de Bla­sio had al­ready slashed from his pro­posed bud­get — which now stands around $86 bil­lion — and in the wake of huge tax rev­enue short­falls due to the coro­n­avirus out­break. City Hall’s ex­ec­u­tive of­fice and the City Coun­cil re­mained em­broiled in bud­get ne­go­ti­a­tions Mon­day, one day be­fore the legally-man­dated dead­line to ham­mer out an agree­ment.

The mayor said the cuts to the NYPD were not in­tended to pun­ish the depart­ment in the wake of crit­i­cism over its use of force dur­ing anti-po­lice bru­tal­ity protests.

“We want to shift re­sources more and more into young peo­ple in par­tic­u­lar, into youth cen­ters. We want to shift re­sources more and more into pub­lic hous­ing,” de Bla­sio said at a Mon­day morn­ing press con­fer­ence. “We’re go­ing to take that cap­i­tal money and shift it into cre­at­ing youth re­cre­ation cen­ters.”

The city is also poised to can­cel next month’s Po­lice Academy class — bring­ing an es­ti­mated sav­ings of about $80 mil­lion — and trans­fer school safety of­fi­cers from the po­lice to ed­u­ca­tion de­part­ments, a move trim­ming about $422.1 mil­lion from the NYPD bud­get. That’s ac­cord­ing to sources who re­quested anonymity due to the sen­si­tiv­ity of the talks.

They said the change in who over­sees school safety of­fi­cers may seem su­per­fi­cial, but could trans­form how stu­dents are po­liced.

The move could en­tail “stronger guide­lines and checks and bal­ances on what school safety can do,” one per­son noted.

The school safety of­fi­cer pro­gram, ini­ti­ated in the Gi­u­liani ad­min­is­tra­tion, has long been ac­cused of dis­pro­por­tion­ately tar­get­ing stu­dents of color.

The new NYPD cuts also in­clude trans­fer­ring home­less out­reach pro­grams to the Depart­ment of Home­less Ser­vices, in an at­tempt to ad­dress crit­i­cism that cops are the wrong city work­ers to get the home­less off of streets. De­tails of the change were not im­me­di­ately known.

Also on the ta­ble was an at­tempt to curb NYPD over­time pay by a whop­ping $352.2 mil­lion — though sim­i­lar ef­forts have fal­tered in the past — and smaller mea­sures such as can­cel­ing $5 mil­lion in spend­ing on new ve­hi­cles for the depart­ment.

In­clud­ing the mea­sure on over­time pay, es­ti­mated cuts come to about $512.1 mil­lion. The rest of the roughly $1 bil­lion sum comes from shifting fund­ing from the NYPD to DOE and DHS.

The home stretch of bud­get talks comes af­ter de Bla­sio pro­posed cut­ting the city’s pop­u­lar Sum­mer Youth Em­ploy­ment Pro­gram, draw­ing out­rage from pols and ac­tivists who said kids need the ex­tra in­come more than ever.

The Coun­cil drew con­ces­sions from the mayor over the week­end, ac­cord­ing to sources who say sum­mer jobs pro­grams will come back, al­beit in re­duced form. De­tails were not im­me­di­ately known.

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Both the mayor and Coun­cil Speaker Corey John­son are likely to tout the NYPD changes and re­vival of sum­mer youth em­ploy­ment as ma­jor wins — but the bud­get seems sure to leave ac­tivists an­gry.

“It tin­kers here and tin­kers there, but it does not rep­re­sent the sea change that peo­ple had been de­mand­ing and camp­ing out for,” a source fa­mil­iar with the bud­get talks said of the NYPD changes.

“You’re go­ing to get a num­ber of nos on the left and you’re go­ing to get a num­ber of nos on the right, but they’ll have the votes to pass the bud­get,” the per­son added.

In re­cent weeks, de Bla­sio threat­ened to fire as many as 22,000 city work­ers as he sought au­thor­ity from Al­bany to take on debt to cover op­er­at­ing ex­penses, a move Gov. Cuomo op­poses.

In spite of the dire threat from the mayor, wide­spread lay­offs were off the ta­ble for now, sources said. About 50 park rangers and 80 park en­force­ment pa­trol work­ers, who are charged with en­forc­ing so­cial-dis­tanc­ing rules, might be cut in the short term, though.

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