With a Democratic Mayor and a Democratic City Council Speaker, there’s not a lot of political disagreement except when it comes to policing. As the city hashes the budget for the new fiscal year, the idea of hiring an additional 1,000 police officers has made its way back to the center of a political divide.
Nardos Mesmer reports
City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito presented her State of the City speech last week. She recognized the deaths of the two NYPD police officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos in late December.
MARK-VIVERITO: Their senseless murders left a gaping whole in the hearts of New York. They are a part of the fabric of our city and essential to our success. So when someone commits a violent act against our police officers, it is an act against all of us.
She says the City Council and the Mayor agree that getting new bulletproof vests is a priority but she says there still a big piece missing when it comes to police safety.
MARK-VIVERITO: We also understand that the NYPD needs a higher headcount to carry out more community police. That is why this council fought for 1000 new police officers last year and why we will continue to do so this year.
A big price tag of more than 90 million dollars a year for something the Mayor did not include in his preliminary budget that he submitted last week. But, he’s willing to talk about it.
dE BLASIO: As you know Commissioner Bratton’s team just finished their reengineering evaluation and they put forward an initial plan. We’re having very serious discussions about that; probably going to have a serious discussion with the City Council as well, so that’s not going to be ready until the executive budget.
One person who studies policing is Maria Haberfeld. She teaches at John Jay College and has been studying policing for a long time. She says it’s more about quality over quantity.
MARIA HABEFELD: Well, to me it’s always about what kind of police officers you have and not how many police officers you have.
She says the hires would help the NYPD since at 35,000, the NYPD has 5,000 fewer police officers from just last year. She says in recent years, the city has broadened its hiring practices to include people with misdemeanor and that should stop.
MARIA HABEFELD I would like to see advocating for raising the standards, educational standards, age standards, background standards.
Michael Palladino is the President of the Detective Endowment Association. He says he is frustrated when it comes to something as significant to hiring police officers and police safety he says its politics as usual.
PALLADINO: The politicians want to gain political capitol on the backs of police officer, there are a lot of things going on in Albany and the city Council has turned off a lot of educated men and women. They have stayed away from law enforcement.
Weather potential hires can be lured back will determined by the final city budget in April.
Nardos Mesmer, Columbia Radio News