South Brooklyn elected officials discussed their votes on the Fiscal Year 2021 Budget.
On June 30, the City Council and Mayor Bill de Blasio approved the controversial budget, which includes several cuts, including a reallocation of $1 billion from the New York Police Department.
According to de Blasio, NYPD reform has massive cuts and reduced expenses while maintaining patrol strength and keeping streets safe. The reduced spending includes the cancellation of July class, major overtime reductions, reduced contracts and non-personnel expenses, and the transfer of responsibilities of crossing guards and Homeless Engagement Unit out of the NYPD.
Reinvestments of NYPD funds include $115 million for summer youth programming, $116 million for education, $134 million for family and social services, nearly $537 million in capital shifted from NYPD including $450 million for NYCHA and Parks youth recreation centers and $87 million for NYCHA Broadband expansion.
Councilmember Mark Treyger said his “yes” vote was the toughest of his career.
“My vote to advance a painful and emergency budget rather than hand the reigns to a heartless state control board is leading to criticism by some on one side of politics that I’m ‘pro-cop’ because I did not want to fire 5,500 school safety agents, which is a workforce made up of predominantly women of color who earn much less than police officers,” he said. “Their move to NYC DOE from NYPD (which accounts for a $500 million shift) was counted as part of the $1 billion NYPD reduction as well as overtime cuts. I did not and do not support firing them. I support a just transition of school safety to DOE under a better, restorative model for students and staff.”
He added that locals were upset that no police officers were fired due to the budget despite the reallocation, while others are mad that the NYPD received any kind of cut, despite the nearly $10 billion budget hole crisis.
“Many of the newest hires of the NYPD are far more diverse than the hires of 20 years ago,” he said. “Agencies should reflect the communities they serve.”
Councilmember Justin Brannan, who also voted “yes” on the budget, explained his decision and added that due to the massive budget hole, every New York City program, service, agency and department saw cuts. He also addressed the cuts made to the NYPD.
“Some people are angry that no police officer was fired by our vote, others are angry that we agreed to even a penny being cut from the budget,” he said. “The Adopted Budget includes $837 million in cuts and transfers to the NYPD expense budget. When combined with associated costs, these cuts remove $1 billion from the NYPD’s spending, largely by rethinking the role of police in a community, reflecting the current national conversation around police reform.”
The role of policing may change, according to Brannan.
“We have been asking our police officers to act as social workers and make mental health evaluations in the field,” he said. “That will change. Treating all New Yorkers with dignity and respect while keeping everyone safe are goals that can coexist.
“Locally, I firmly believe that the 68th and 62nd Precincts will continue to keep our neighborhoods some of the safest in all of New York City.”
Councilmember Carlos Menchaca, who has been vocal about defunding the NYPD, voted against the proposal and was disappointed by its approval.
“City Council passed an austerity budget that does not defund the NYPD, but instead defunds our communities, particularly our immigrant communities,” he said. “This is cruel, given that half of all essential workers during this pandemic are immigrant New Yorkers, and half of all immigrant New Yorkers have lost their jobs so far.”
Councilmember Brad Lander also voted against the budget.
“Reducing NYPD spending is both a necessary first step toward transforming our approach to public safety (so we stop using policing to confront every problem from homelessness to mental health to DV to school safety) and fiscal necessity this year given the pandemic,” he tweeted.
He also said, “Hiring 1,100 new cops (1 for every 2 who leave) and failing to be bolder in cutting the NYPD means hundreds of millions that we can’t spend on public schools, affordable housing, public health & other critical supports needed to get us through the trauma of this pandemic.”