NEW YORK >> Mayor Bill de Blasio today pledged for the first time to cut New York City’s police funding, following 10 nights of mass protests against police violence and mounting demands that he overhaul a department whose tactics have caused widespread consternation.
The mayor declined to say precisely how much funding he planned to divert to social services from the New York Police Department, which has an annual budget of $6 billion, representing more than 6% of de Blasio’s proposed $90 billion budget.
De Blasio said the details would be worked out with the City Council in advance of the July 1 budget deadline.
“We’re committed to seeing a shift of funding to youth services, to social services, that will happen literally in the course of the next three weeks, but I’m not going to go into detail because it is subject to negotiation and we want to figure out what makes sense,” de Blasio said.
As recently as Friday, de Blasio expressed skepticism about cutting police funding, even as he noted that all city agencies might face cuts, absent more financial assistance from the federal government.
His Sunday reversal was one of two shifts in his stance toward protesters. In the early morning, he announced on Twitter that New York City’s first curfew since World War II would end effectively immediately, a day earlier than planned. He attributed the course correction to his belief that the protests had become more peaceful in recent days.
De Blasio is facing a possible $9 billion budget gap and significant unrest within his own administration over his handling of both the coronavirus crisis and the mass demonstrations following the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd.
Many protesters and observers have accused the Police Department of using violent tactics during the unrest while enforcing the curfew, which began Monday.
On Saturday, dozens of employees at the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice signed a statement demanding that de Blasio support several policing reforms, including a ban on the use of chokeholds by police. Legislation that would mandate such a ban is believed to have a veto-proof majority in the City Council. De Blasio has resisted signing on to the measure and did not address that issue in his announcement today.