New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio took a victory lap after claiming that he and the City Council slashed the police budget by $1 billion in response to protests over police violence but budget documents show that figure is at least $300 million short and likely far more, Politico reports.
"The NYPD’s budget has been reduced by $1 billion while maintaining patrol strength and safety through a combination of savings and shifting responsibilities to other agencies," de Blasio’s office touted in a press release on Tuesday.
Even that figure was overstated.
"The reduction includes nearly $484 million in cuts [and] $354 million in shifts to other agencies best positioned to carry out the duties that have previously been assigned to the NYPD, such as [the education department]," said City Council Speaker Corey Johnson.
The plan had already come under fire from New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other reformers.
“Defunding the police means defunding police. It does not mean budget tricks or funny math,” she said. “It does not mean moving police officers from the NYPD budget to the Department of Education budget so that the exact same police remain in schools. That is not a victory.”
But documents obtained by Politico show even that is not the case.
Budget shift looks questionable:
One of the ways the city planned to “cut” the NYPD budget was by shifting school resource officers to the Department of Education even though the program is “largely funded” by the Education Department already and “many were already accusing city leaders of using the shift as a budget gimmick to mollify activists.”
But budget documents show that the program is still under the NYPD and actually received a 2% increase in the budget.
De Blasio’s office claimed that the transition would be a “multi-year process” but that “was not the impression city leaders have given this week in announcing the cuts,” Politico reported.
“We have a commitment from the de Blasio Administration that school safety would be moved out of the NYPD budget this fiscal year, and we will hold the mayor to his word," Council spokesperson Jennifer Fermino said in a statement. "The administration's response raises serious alarm bells about their commitment to this time frame. This is unacceptable."
Other cuts also dubious:
“Not only do the budget documents show the mayor’s $1 billion claim to be at least $300 million short, but more than a third of the reduction also hinges on a $350 million overtime decrease that many have said is an unlikely figure,” Politico reported. “The NYPD accounted for 44 percent of all the budgeted overtime last year, according to the budget commission, and routinely exceeds its allotted amount annually.”
"That's a really high target to set for a single year," said Ana Champeny of the Citizens Budget Commission. "So I think that's another reason why there's some skepticism about, in the end, whether this reduction will really hit the target."
“There are no safeguards to ensure that the NYPD will actually adhere to the reductions in overtime they have committed to this fiscal year — like they do every year,” said City Council Member Donovan Richards.