New York City Mayor Eric Adams’ administration has made the controversial decision to cut overtime pay for police officers in order to offset the city’s mounting expenses due to the ongoing migrant crisis.
The decision has sparked criticism from police unions, who argue that it will further strain an already understaffed police force, and potentially compromise public safety.
Patrick Hendry, head of the Police Benevolent Association, criticized the decision.
“It is going to be impossible for the NYPD to significantly reduce overtime unless it fixes its staffing crisis. We are still thousands of cops short, and we’re struggling to drive crime back to pre-2020 levels without adequate personnel,” Hendry told the NY Post.
“If city hall wants to save money without jeopardizing public safety, it needs to invest in keeping experienced cops on the job,” he added.
The influx of migrants into the city, described as a “financial tsunami” by Mayor Adams, will likely have a negative impact on various city services, officials warn.
“Every service in this city is going to be impacted, from child service to our seniors to housing. Everything will be impacted,” Adams said.
The cost-cutting initiative, which includes a hiring freeze and limits spending across the city, calls for all impacted agencies, including police, fire, corrections and sanitation departments, to submit overtime reduction plans and monitor progress monthly.
The mayor’s administration has not yet received official responses from the affected agencies, leaving the details of the overtime reduction plan uncertain.
Critics immediately responded to the move, arguing that reducing overtime may lead to a “brain drain” in the NYPD, as eligible officers may choose to retire due to the financial implications of reduced overtime, which is pensionable.
“A lot of people that are eligible to retire are going to leave if the overtime stops because overtime is pensionable,” one NYPD sergeant said after the mayor’s announcement.
More retirements, in turn, could further exacerbate the department’s staffing shortage.
“We’re already at critical staffing levels, and it’s cheaper to pay overtime than it is to hire another officer,” one police source noted.
Sources also highlighted that many benefits, such as healthcare, have already been accounted for when existing officers take on additional shifts.
In addition to police overtime cuts, city hall has instructed all branches of government to reduce spending by 5%, with the possibility of further cuts up to 15% in the near future.
The directive aims to address the “skyrocketing costs” associated with the migrant crisis for purposes such as housing, which Mayor Adams estimates will cost the city $12 billion over the next three years.
City agencies are now faced with the challenging task of identifying areas to cut costs.
Andrew Rein, president of the Citizens Budget Commission, suggested scrutinizing recently added programs, including education initiatives and mental health support, to determine their essentiality in the budget.
“The fiscal cliff programs — ongoing programs funded by federal COVID and non-recurring city revenues — should be scrutinized to see how essential they are, since they are already unfunded in the future. But the city may determine they are higher impact than other programs, and ones chosen to protect,” he stated.
The administration acknowledged the financial strain caused by the humanitarian crisis, calling for federal aid to address the situation adequately.
Around 60,000 migrants are currently seeking asylum in the city. Since last spring, around 110,000 migrants from the southern border have arrived in New York.
“We are responding to an enormous influx of migrants, most of whom arrive with young children and limited means,” said Jaques Jiha, director of the New York City Mayor’s Office of Management and Budget.
Jiha noted that as a city of immigrants, New York would do anything it could to assist the migrants.
One NYPD sergeant said that cutting mandatory overtime may have an upside by lifting morale in the department.
“Morale will improve among some cops if overtime is cut because a lot of them are being forced to do unwanted overtime,” the sergeant said.