City Council keeps pressure on de Blasio, NYPD to hire more cops
The New York City Council isn’t giving up on its proposal to bring in 1,000 new cops into the police force, even if top brass doubts it can happen.
NYPD representatives, including Commissioner Bill Bratton, made a second appearance at City Hall in front of the Council on Tuesday, and again cast doubt on the idea that the the administration should prioritize new hires over increased pay for existing officers.
Members of the Council, including Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, vocalized their frustration with the commissioner’s lack of support for the budget increase to get more officers on the ground around the city.
After Bratton’s testimony, Mark-Viverito said the lawmakers continue to hold strong on the need for the hires.
“We believe — based on the additional enforcement needs and visions outlined by the mayor and the administration — that we can’t continue to tax our current resources, and that we need to bring more police officers into the precincts.”
Mark-Viverito pointed to Bratton’s testimony from a hearing in late March where Bratton admitted that an influx of officers in the 1990s helped drive crime down.
“I know how much I benefited from … being able to put an extra 50 to 100 officers in each precinct, and then watching crime rates decline in each precinct of the city by double digits for the next several years,” he said at the time.
On Tuesday, Bratton told Council members that the city coffers won’t budge for their plan and that the NYPD planned to make do with the 35,437 officers currently on the job.
“Would I like 1,000 more cops? Certainly,” he told the Council. “But I’m also very mindful of the mayor’s issues around the budget.
Even if the money existed, he added, any additions to the police force in the next budget, due before July 1, wouldn’t impact the NYPD’s response to crime until mid 2015.
In response to Council members’ questions on getting more officers in city streets, Bratton suggested shifting officers from Critical Response Vehicle patrol cars to beats within precincts.
Bratton also said that any existing lack of men and women in blue is mostly offset by having officers work overtime.
“The use of overtime,” Bratton told the Council, “is the better way to go.”
However, Mark-Viverito and various Council members have long argued that the dependence of overtime — which cost taxpayers $634.6 million in 2013 — is a problem.
“A lot of the overtime that is happening is at the precinct level, and that is because of the fact that more personnel are needed,” she said Tuesday.
Earlier this month, Mayor Bill de Blasio rebuffed the Council’s request for $94.3 million to pay for the new cops during his most recent budget release.
“I know that’s a heartfelt request on their part, but the fact is, that thank God the NYPD is achieving what it is achieving with the resources it has now,” the mayor said at the time.
But besides Mark-Viverito, another key ally of de Blasio’s pushed back on the administration’s reluctance to the proposal.
“I know that privately you support this initiative — all of you in this room,” Public Advocate Letitia James told the panel Bratton sat on. “This is really an appeal to the mayor.”
Follow Chester Jesus Soria on Twitter @chestersoria