New York Police Commissioner Calls for Additional Officers, Overtime
By Katie Honan
Stemming New York's rise in violent crime and helping the city
recover from the Covid-19 pandemic will require more police
officers and overtime spending, New York Police Department
Commissioner Dermot Shea said Tuesday.
Mr. Shea, at a city council hearing on the city's proposed
budget for the coming fiscal year, said that overtime spending is
at a 15-year low. He urged against spending cuts to his department,
which lost some funding last year and has faced calls for further
reductions from some city lawmakers.
The NYPD's proposed annual expense budget for the coming fiscal
year is $5.44 billion, which is 5.5% of the city's $98.56 billion
overall proposed budget. There are currently 35,030 uniformed
members and 15,646 civilian members of the department, according to
The current fiscal year's budget allocates nearly $271 million
in overtime for the department, according to Bernard O'Brien, a
police budget analyst at the city's Independent Budget Office. The
NYPD already has exceeded that amount this year, Mr. O'Brien
A total of $837.5 million was spent on NYPD overtime last year,
and an average of $740.4 million over the past five years.
"Overtime is a critical tool in maintaining public safety
because it affords us additional deployment in neighborhoods with
increasing levels of shootings and other violence, including in our
transit system and housing developments," Mr. Shea said.
As the city begins to emerge from a pandemic-related shutdown,
more police will be needed at parades and other events, he said.
New York state is lifting Covid-19 restrictions on businesses later
"As we see these events return, the need for additional police
officers will mean additional expenditures," he said, adding that
the proposed overtime budget will be insufficient to safely police
Violent crime has surged in New York City since the pandemic
began last year, and the NYPD said it recorded 416 shootings from
Jan. 1 through May 2, up from 227 shootings in the same period last
There were 44 homicides in the city in April, up from 38
homicides in April 2020, according to the NYPD. Last week, three
bystanders, including a 4-year-old girl in a stroller, were shot in
"Bullets do not discriminate," Mr. Shea said. "We need to do
much, much more to stem the violence."
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democrat, and the council
approved a budget for the current fiscal year on June 30 that cut
about $1 billion from the police department's annual budget,
including operating expenses and capital spending. The reductions
were in response to nationwide protests over the May 2020 killing
of George Floyd, a Black man, while in Minneapolis police
Some protesters in New York City camped outside City Hall for
weeks before the budget was approved, calling for major reductions
to the police department.
Many of the spending cuts the NYPD saw, including millions of
dollars for a new police precinct station house in southeast
Queens, have been restored as the city has received federal funding
to fill Covid-19 budget shortfalls.
Mr. de Blasio said at a press conference Tuesday that he
believed the department's current head count, including 850
officers who graduated from the police academy last week, was the
right number of officers needed to keep the city safe.
At Tuesday's hearing, some council members questioned whether
the city needs as many police officers as Mr. Shea said.
"I think there's a major disconnect here, and when you talk
about safety, I think you have to have the public's attitude and
mind-set as well," said Councilman Danny Dromm, a Democrat who
represents parts of Queens and is the chair of the finance
Mr. Dromm said investigations into alleged police misconduct
during protests were a reason to reduce the number of officers. The
city's Department of Investigation, a watchdog agency, issued a
report in December saying the department mishandled its response to
the Black Lives Matter protests.
Mr. Shea said he speaks to New Yorkers who want more police
patrolling their neighborhoods.
"We've made great strides in that but clearly more work to do,"
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
May 11, 2021 18:14 ET (22:14 GMT)
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