New York to get nearly 1,300 extra police
The announcement marks a U-turn for progressive Democrat, Bill de Blasio, who said repeatedly he did not see a need for more officers, and comes after an increase in murders and shootings.
“There have been long conversations particularly over the last few weeks on what was the right thing to do,” de Blasio said late Monday, announcing the city’s $78.5 billion budget.
The new budget sets aside $170 million to add 1,297 uniformed officers to the New York Police Department.
“That will take our force from approximately 34,500 officers to nearly 35,800 officers by July 1, 2016,” the mayor said.
The extra staff will be devoted to counter-terrorism and to what de Blasio called a “pioneering” neighborhood policing strategy designed to improve relations between officers and communities.
He has made police-community reform a key promise of his administration as a string of killings of unarmed black men across the United States have ignited protests.
De Blasio said the extra staff would cap overtime costs and generate savings of $70 million when fully phased in.
Two weeks ago, police commissioner Bill Bratton ordered hundreds of officers off their desks and back onto the streets in an effort to crack down on an increase in murders and shootings.
Police told AFP there had been 451 shooting incidents this year to June 10, compared to 428 at the same point in 2014, with murders at 143 compared to 121 up to the same period last year.
De Blasio told reporters Monday that the extra deployments brought homicides down 75 percent and shootings down 38 percent in the first week of what is intended as a temporary, summer program.
But the president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, Pat Lynch, said hiring 1,000 new officers was “a drop in the bucket” since the force had lost nearly 7,000 since 2001.
“Under staffing not only empowers criminals, but it leads management to make bad policy decisions like quotas for police activities in an effort to compensate for the shortage,” he said.
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