City Council approves budget with $ 1 billion cut from NYPD

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The New York City Council approved the $ 88.1 billion city budget just after midnight Wednesday in hopes of solving the Big Apple's $ 9 billion budget deficit, in part by reducing spending on New York police at $ 1 billion.

The deal was made official once Councilwoman Deborah Rose became the 26th member of the council to vote in favor of the budget, representing a majority of the 51-person legislative body.

"Today is not a day of celebration, we are not a time of celebration, it is a time of need and today's budget agreement is one of need," said Council President Corey Johnson after the vote.

Heartbreaking, impossible decisions had to be made. It wasn't easy, ”added Johnson.

The substantial cuts to New York police occurred in response to protests seeking to fund the department in the wake of George Floyd's death at the hands of police in Minneapolis.

The effects will include, in part, reducing overtime by $ 352 million and cutting the size of the police force by 1,163 police, which de Blasio insisted would not decrease public safety despite a recent increase in shootings.

A large portion of the New York Police cut, $ 349.5 million, was made by transferring the department's school security and crossing guard functions to other city agencies.

Johnson promised that the change was indicative of a broader policy change in the way schools and students are monitored.

The budget was approved by a final vote of 32-17, with one member absent and one seat empty.

One of the night's most shocking votes was cast by Councilman Donovan Richards (D-Queens), who voted against the budget deal.

"My concern with this budget is not just about the $ 1 billion cut, but more about the culture of the New York police," said Richards, the chairman of the committee that oversees the New York police and the prohibitive favorite for become the next Queens county president.

"A $ 1 billion budget cut cannot address the racism that runs rampant in the New York police," he said.

"We must send a clear message that it is not okay to boil peaceful protesters, that it is not okay to put black and brown New Yorkers in a choke while gasping for air."

Richards added: "We must send a clear message that it is not okay to shoot unarmed black men like Sean Bell and Ramarley Graham."

Councilman I. Daneek Miller, a Democrat from Brooklyn, voted in favor of the budget, but expressed opposition to the reduction of the New York police.

"Blacks want to be safe like everyone else, we just want to be respected," said Miller. "We cannot allow people from outside our community to give us lectures on the lives of blacks and what we need in our communities."

Johnson said he was finally "disappointed" with the budget, saying he wanted deeper cuts to the NYPD and a further reduction in its strength.

"This is a budget process involving the Mayor who would not budge on these items," said the speaker.

Hizzoner has argued that the cuts would not "undermine our counterterrorism capacity" in a city that is a constant target and where last month a man attacked police while shouting "Allahu Akhbar" in Brooklyn.

"It will not be easy. We are asking a lot from the New York police, but the New York police is up to the mission. I have no doubts in my mind," said the mayor. "They will find a way to be more effective and efficient, they have done it for years and they will keep us safe."

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