New York's "sanctuary city" status will bring NYPD below 30,000 officers for first time in nearly 40 years

NEW YORK CITY- The New York City Police Department has historically had over 30,000 police officers patrolling the streets of America’s largest city. However, New York's “sanctuary city” status will cause painful cuts to an already depleted department. 

The New York Times reports Mayor Eric Adams announced Thursday that due to the “migrant crisis” in the city, he was forced to impose draconian budget cuts on city services. One victim of those cuts is the NYPD, which will have hiring frozen at a time when it is already shorthanded. 

Those cuts will bring police department staffing below 30,000 for the first time since the 1980s when crime is still much higher than it was three years ago. Other cuts will see city libraries close on Sundays, cut the Education Department budget by $1 billion over two years, and delay a composting project in the Bronx and Staten Island designed to address the city’s rat problem and fulfill some of Adams’ climate change initiatives. The cuts would also decimate two signature programs in the city–summer school and universal pre-K. 

Adams also signaled that additional painful cuts may be necessary without the federal government bailing out the city, the Times wrote. 

In a statement, Adams said the cuts were necessary due to the rising costs of the so-called “migrant crisis,” slowing tax revenues and the end of federal pandemic aid. 

“No city should be left to handle a national humanitarian crisis largely on its own, and without the significant and timely support we need from Washington, D.C., today’s budget will be only the beginning,” Adams said. He did not address the fact that the city’s self-declared status as a “sanctuary city” has had a significant impact on the number of illegal migrants flooding the Big Apple. 

Adams’ announcement comes amid two crises possibly impacting his chance at reelection–the influx of illegal migrants that crossed the southern border and a federal investigation into his campaign’s fundraising. 

In a news conference last week, Adams warned that the budget cuts would prove “extremely painful for New Yorkers.” 

“In all my time in government, this is probably one of the most painful exercises I’ve gone through,” Adams rued. 

Adams’ proposed cuts did not sit well with so-called progressive Democrats, who complained they would hurt working-class families. One progressive member of the City Council, Lincoln Restler, said his group would not “cooperate” with the cuts. 

“Mayor Adams’ unnecessary, dangerous, and draconian budget cuts will only worsen New York’s affordability crisis and delay our city’s economic recovery by cutting funding for the schools, child care, food assistance, and more that help New Yorkers live and raise families in the city,” Restler said. 

In addressing the influx of illegals into the city, Adams said it is expected to cost the city nearly $11 billion over the next two years while noting next year’s city budget already had a $7 billion gap. City officials said the cuts would go into effect immediately and that Adams could implement hiring freezes independently. 

While the city council does have some role in approving changes to the city’s budget, in particular where it concerns funding being moved among agencies, they will likely engage Adams in his budget cuts during budget negotiations for next year, which is due in June and which requires city council approval. 

Council Speaker Adrienne Adams stated that some essential programs like libraries and the City University of New York should be left out of budget cuts, not addressing the public safety impact of a reduced NYPD. She advocates approving new revenue streams for the city (tax increases) and suggests shifting migrant services to nonprofits. 

“The administration’s response in providing services for asylum seekers has relied far too much on expensive emergency contracts with for-profit companies that cost the city billions of dollars,” she said. 

Meanwhile, police union president Patrick Hendry complained the police hiring freeze, which involves postponing five classes of new officers, will make the city less safe. The last time the NYPD had less than 30,000 officers was in 1984, according to the city’s Independent Budget Office. 

“This is truly a disaster for every New Yorker who cares about safe streets,” Hendry said. “Cops are already stretched to our breaking point, and these cuts will return us to staffing levels we haven’t seen since the crime epidemic of the ’80s and ’90s. We cannot go back there.” 

During those two decades, crime in New York exploded and wasn’t brought under control until Rudy Giuliani became mayor and implemented so-called “broken windows” policing. The city became much safer under Giuliani and even Michael Bloomberg. However, over the past three years in the anti-police, post-George Floyd riot era, the city has become much more violent. Some see further cutting the NYPD as a fool’s errand. 

Adams also cut a new class of 250 school safety agents, making city schools much more dangerous. In their place, Adams suggested schools should be “leaning into parents and parent groups to do some volunteerism” in their facilities. He promised to do whatever it takes to ensure schools remain safe despite fewer resources. 

“We are going to be straining at a very high level to get this done correctly,” the mayor said. 

Meanwhile, city library officials complained the budget cuts would force the closing of branches on Sundays beginning next month. 

“Without sufficient funding, we cannot sustain our current levels of service, and any further cuts to the libraries’ budgets will, unfortunately, result in deeper service impacts,” library leaders in Brooklyn, Queens, and the New York Public Library said in a statement. 

Adams has also been criticized by leaders of nonprofits, who complain the cuts will impact essential services, including food pantries, domestic violence shelters, after-school programs, and legal services. Executive Director Michelle Jackson of the Human Services Council said Adams’ cuts will “make our city less fair, less safe, and less stable for years to come.” 

Adams has not escaped criticism from the far left, as leaders of the Working Families Party also slammed his cuts. 

“Mayor Adams is pursuing an agenda of death by a thousand cuts,” they said. “As any teacher, librarian, or health care worker will tell you: There’s nothing left to cut.” 

Liberal Democrats refused to acknowledge that the influx of migrants was a primary driver in the cuts suggested by Adams. City Comptroller Brad Lander complained that “they [migrants] are only contributing to a portion of these budget gaps, much of which already existed.” 

New York City schools will also feel the pinch at a time when enrollment has increased by about one percent this year, primarily due to the influx of illegal migrants into the city. Public school enrollment in New York now stands at about 915,000. Educators complain the cuts are coming at a time when more, not less, resources are needed. 

According to officials at the Education Department, city schools will see a $547 million cut this fiscal year and $600 million next year. Those cuts will be across the board, leading the president of the United Federation of Teachers, Michael Mulgrew, to complain that 653 city schools will be forced to make midyear budget cuts. 

“Class sizes will rise, and school communities will be needlessly damaged,” he said. 

Adams has had a rough go in his first term as mayor, and he acknowledged that the budget cuts would impact some of his priorities. 

“It is more painful for New Yorkers–it’s painful for us,” Adams said. “I’ve seen a great deal of just personal pain from the members of my team. These are initiatives that we fought hard for.” 

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