The New York City Council is poised to renew its call to hire 1,000 more officers for the police department, potentially setting up a repeat clash with Mayor Bill de Blasio about the headcount of the nation’s largest police force.
The council will release its budget presentation on Tuesday and will include funding to hire the additional officers, council staffers told The Associated Press on Sunday. The council made the same proposal a year ago but it was rejected by de Blasio and not included in the final budget for fiscal year 2015, which began July 1.
The council, which is composed of 48 Democrats and just three Republicans, has largely marched in lockstep with de Blasio, a Democrat, as he has acted to expand the role of city government in people’s lives. But the debate over hiring the additional officers a year ago was a rare moment of disagreement as de Blasio turned down the request, citing record low crime numbers and suggesting that the money would be better spent elsewhere.
The issue has come under increased scrutiny this year, in the wake of de Blasio’s rift with the police union leaders and many rank-and-file cops. The fissure has largely closed, but even City Hall insiders acknowledge that some tension remains.
Some police union leaders believe the additional manpower would help keep the city streets safe while reducing some of the burden on current officers.
Police Commissioner William Bratton has also, at times, signaled support for the effort to hire more officers for the department, which now has a headcount of about 34,500, about 6,000 fewer than at its peak in 2001. De Blasio has not committed to hiring more officers but has been more receptive to the proposal in his public remarks than he was a year ago.
The council’s budget office projected that hiring two new classes of officers, to total 1,000, would cost nearly $69 million. But the council believes that the cost will be offset by the corresponding reduction in overtime; Bratton last month said that overtime costs for the fiscal year were estimated to reach $672 million, an increase of $89 million from the year before.
De Blasio will present his executive budget in early May. A budget deal must be brokered by the end of June.