New York Mayor Bill de Blasio surprised both supporters and critics on Monday night when he unveiled a $78.5 billion budget deal that will add 1,300 new cops to the NYPD—even more than the 1,000 officers New York’s City Council Speaker had been asking for. Police Commissioner William Bratton, an advocate of broken-windows policing who had defended the NYPD’s controversial stop-and-frisk practices, had also called for more cops, surprising precisely nobody.
Noting that the expansion is projected to increase the city budget by over $100 million, the Times adds:
About 300 of the new officers would form a new counterterrorism team to patrol areas of the city perceived as high risk, like Times Square.
And in what Mr. de Blasio billed as a “pioneering” step in police reform, the city is expected to debut a new neighborhood-based policing model, in which patrol officers would be given about one-third of their day away from radio calls to develop closer relationships with residents of their precincts.
De Blasio’s willingness to meet Bratton’s demands was unexpected, given the mayor’s well-publicized disagreements with Bratton over whether more policing is always better. As recently as this month, de Blasio was reiterating his skepticism about the need to get tougher on crime on Brian Lehrer’s WNYC radio show.
The murder rate in New York remains higher than it was at this time last year but seems to be slowing down—it’s still unclear if the slow-down is related to an NYPD initiative to put more beat cops on the street during the summer.
Of course, it’s entirely possible that de Blasio agreed to expand the force precisely in order to fight public perceptions that he’s “soft on crime” and to curry favor within the NYPD’s rank-and-file, where he’s not much beloved.
Advocates of police reform are obviously unhappy with this outcome, with one activist telling the New York Daily News that it would only exacerbate the NYPD’s problems with racial profiling and overzealous policing of minor violations. Fiscal conservatives have also balked at the cost.
But Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association chief Pat Lynch, a fierce critic of de Blasio’s who stoked controversy last December by blaming the murders of two beat cops partly on the mayor, was also critical of the deal, calling the 1,300 new cops a “drop in the bucket” compared to what the NYPD needs. According to Gothamist, the new recruits will raise the department’s headcount to about 35,800—still fewer than the 37,000 it had in 2002.
The NYPD also announced on Monday that it was looking to buy an additional 5,000 body cameras for its officers. Advocates for body cameras, including de Blasio himself, argue that they are an affordable and effective way to hold cops accountable for their actions and prevent incidents of police brutality.