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Queens Chronicle

Mayor, Council split on new police hires

Budget team wants 1,000 more cops; de Blasio says unnecessary

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Posted: Thursday, May 1, 2014 10:30 am | Updated: 11:39 am, Thu May 8, 2014.

When the overwhelmingly Democratic City Council and a new Democratic mayor have a budget dispute, it’s a big one, with the city’s executive and legislative branches at odds over NYPD staffing levels.

In a 53-page report largely praising Mayor de Blasio for his progressive spending priorities, the Council’s budget negotiating team called for the NYPD to add 1,000 new officers to the approximately 35,000-member department.

But the mayor is saying that a tenuous city budget situation makes the expense of hiring more officers difficult, while asserting that plunging crime statistics show it to be unnecessary for the immediate future.

“This would add about 13 officers per precinct,” according to the Council’s report, which went on to say that new initiatives like de Blasio’s Vision Zero traffic safety plan and expanded community policing programs require more officers on patrol.

Council figures state that the NYPD had a high of 40,710 officers in the 2001 fiscal year, and that present levels are a drop of between 60 and 75 officers per precinct since then.

Councilman Mark Weprin (D-Oakland Gardens) laid out the case for the Council’s proposal on Tuesday.

“We had a lot more cops back in the ‘Safe Streets, Safe City’ program,” Weprin said. “Our precincts have suffered over the years. And our principal concern is the safety of New York City. Yes, the murder rate is down but crimes like burglary still keep popping up occasionally.”

Councilman Ruben Wills (D-Jamaica) also backed the increase last week at a rally to fund anti-violence programs.

The Council’s budget team places the additional cost of 1,000 officers at $94.3 million in FY 2015, going up to $97.9 million the following year.

The report adds that civilianization of some positions in precincts and administrative areas could return more than 700 officers to patrol and other law enforcement duties.

De Blasio, in a statement issued by his office last week, reiterated the position he first took during his candidacy.

“I think with the force we have right now, we’re doing a great job,” de Blasio said, praising the rank and file officers and Commissioner Bill Bratton. “Crime remains low. And let me give them additional credit for continuing the healing process between police and community.

“So the resources we have now are getting the job done,” the mayor added. “And we’re in a structural deficit. So I am not in the business of adding to that deficit when I believe we can get the job done with the resources and personnel we have now.”

The Daily News last week quoted Bratton as saying he would like any additional spending on police personnel to go toward pay raises for the officers he already has.

Police officers, and members of the roughly 150 other municipal unions, are working on expired contracts. Cops have not had a new deal in more than four years.

The department did not respond to an email from the Chronicle seeking additional comment on Bratton’s position.

The Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, the union that represents officers below the rank of sergeant, declined to comment.

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