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NYC Council leaders back push to cut $1B from police budget

NYC Council leaders back push to cut $1B from police budget
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New York City leaders Friday came out in support of a plan to cut $1 billion from the city’s police budget as protests across the country continue against systemic racism and police use of force.

City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, Majority Leader Laurie Cumbo and other leaders said in a joint statement that they’ve already identified savings that could reduce spending on the police in its budget for fiscal 2021.

“We believe that we can and should work to get to $1 billion in cuts to New York City’s police spending in the Fiscal 2021 budget, an unprecedented reduction that would not only limit the scope of the NYPD, but also show our commitment towards moving away from the failed policing policies of the past,” they said. “There is no doubt that this is an ambitious goal, but it is one that the time we are in calls for – both here in New York City and nationwide.” 

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The leaders said they would achieve the goal by “reducing uniform headcount through attrition, cutting overtime, shifting responsibilities away from the [New York Police Department], finding efficiencies and savings in OTPS spending, and lowering associated fringe expenses.”

The announcement comes as protests across the nation spark a reckoning with police use of force and the funds cities give their police departments.

The demonstrations were in response to the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died in police custody in Minneapolis after a police officer knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes. His death has led to calls from activists for some money currently allocated to the police to instead be directed to other social services, though Republicans have dismissed the idea.

“Our budget must reflect the reality that policing needs fundamental reform. Over the last few weeks, we have seen an outpouring of New Yorkers demanding change from their leaders. It is our job to listen – and to act," the New York City lawmakers said. "We will not let this moment pass, and we will fight for the budget they deserve."

Police Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch slammed the council's statement, saying it would be responsible for every new crime victim. 

"For decades, every time a city agency failed at its task, the city's answer was to take the job away and give it to the NYPD. If the City Council wants to give responsibilities back to those failing agencies, that's their choice," Lynch told New York 4. "They won't be able to throw cops under the bus anymore." 

New York is only the latest city to explore its relationship with its police department. The Minneapolis City Council unanimously voted Friday to explore a new safety model after all of its members vowed to disband the city’s police department.