Following 10 days of mostly peaceful protests against police brutality, marred by at times violent clashes between NYPD and the protesters, as well as calls from residents and local politicians to cut NYPD’s budget, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced yesterday a series of changes to the New York City Police Department.
The Mayor committed to shifting funding from the NYPD to youth and social services for communities of color, however, did not commit to an amount, saying it will be decided as part of budget negotiations. The city is required to have a balanced budget, and it is due by July 1, and a number of lawmakers like council members Carlos Menchaca (Sunset Park) and Brad Lander (Park Slope) have said they will not vote for a budget that does not meaningfully cut the NYPD.
Vendor enforcement will be moved from out of the NYPD, Mayor announced, and while this has not been a concern we’ve heard raised this past week, vendors have complained about aggressive policing before, and earlier this year there were the two cases of churro vendors roughly removed from Brooklyn subway stops. It is unclear who will be in charge of enforcing administrative infractions going forth, and when exactly this change takes place, and we are still awaiting this information from the City Hall at press time.
Lastly, he promised to hire community ambassadors to “bring community voices into senior levels of the NYPD,” again, few details were made available.
“While we have taken many steps to reform policing in this city, there is clearly more work to do to strengthen trust between officers and the New Yorkers they serve,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “These will be the first of many steps my Administration will take over the next 18 months to rebuild a fairer City that profoundly addresses injustice and disparity.”
He acknowledged at the press conference on Sunday that NYPD due process is taking too long, and promised to try to speed it up by hiring more lawyers to investigate claims against officers.
“To say to those who protested, ‘I hear you,’ is simply not enough. I do hear you. I feel it deeply. I literally heard the protest. I saw them. I went all over the city watching very, very up close, but hearing is just the beginning. There has to be action. So, people have to see deeds. They have to see change,” the Mayor said. “It takes, in New York City, too long for there to be accountability for officers who do the wrong thing. That is something we can and must change. That is a tradition that must change. You are starting to see that change. It is not enough yet.”
He also spoke of specific incidents that took place in Brooklyn a week ago.
“Last Friday an officer in Brooklyn shoved a woman to the ground, shoved a protester to the ground in a very inappropriate fashion, in a dangerous fashion. That officer has been suspended without pay, further disciplinary action will commence,” the Mayor said.
“Last Saturday, an officer pulled down the face covering of a protester and sprayed pepper spray at them. That officer has been suspended without pay, further disciplinary action will commence. There was an NYPD supervisor, a senior level officer, who was supposed to be supervising the officer who pushed the woman to the ground and did not,” he continued. “That supervisor has been reassigned and further disciplinary action will commence. Those are three examples. There are more investigations underway, both within the NYPD and then the independent review being done by our Corporation Counsel and our Commissioner for Investigations, and, of course, the State Attorney General’s review as well.”