In a controversial move that could worsen staffing shortages, New York Mayor Eric Adams has decided to temporarily freeze the hiring of new NYPD police officers as part of a series of “extremely painful” citywide budget cuts unveiled on November 16.
The freeze, resulting from a 5% city government-wide spending cut, will halt Police Academy classes and exacerbate the already strained uniformed ranks of the NYPD, police officials say.
The NYPD currently operates with 33,541 officers, 1,460 below its budgeted strength and 2,748 fewer than the pre-pandemic levels in 2019.
According to officials, the money-saving attempt could wreak havoc on public safety.
Major felonies in the city rose in the fiscal year ending June 30, with spikes in grand larcenies, robberies and car thefts, although murders and rapes saw a decline during the same period.
The decision to suspend police hiring also represents a significant concession by the mayor, who had previously avoided impacting the NYPD in his budget cuts. Adams, who made public safety a cornerstone of his 2021 campaign, is now facing widespread criticism, including from Patrick Hendry, president of the Police Benevolent Association (PBA).
“Cutting cops puts New Yorkers at risk, period,” Hendry stated on X.
Hendry also noted the dire impact the move could have on the NYPD’s ongoing staffing crisis.
“This is going to turn the NYPD staffing crisis into a public safety disaster. Our police officers are being worked to exhaustion, and 911 response times are already rising. What is going to happen when no reinforcements arrive for months on end?” he lamented.
Adams, in a briefing at City Hall, hinted at the challenges ahead.
“When we look at around police, what the numbers of our police officers are going to be … it’s going to be extremely painful for New Yorkers,” the mayor said.
He attributed the budget cuts as a necessary step to offset the costs incurred by the city to provide shelter and services for the influx of migrants since last year.
The mayor had already implemented a hiring freeze across city government in October, with public safety and health agencies initially exempt. However, the looming budget update will end this exemption, affecting not only the NYPD but also the Fire Department of the City of New York (FDNY).
First Deputy Mayor Sheena Wright said in the briefing that the budget cuts would impact all city agencies: “Every single agency is going to feel the impact of these cuts, and New Yorkers are going to feel it, top to bottom.”
The budget update is expected to direct the FDNY to slash all overtime spending and cease after-work training sessions and Ceremonial Unit activities, with the exception of department funerals.
Adams, appearing on CBS2, assured the public that he wouldn’t take actions that would impact public safety.
Council Speaker Adrienne Adams also expressed concerns about potential cuts to city agencies and nonprofits, and criticized the administration’s spending on for-profit companies related to asylum seekers.
“We’ve got serious concerns about potential cuts to city agencies and nonprofits that support the city so effectively or that the city relies on, as well as the exorbitant spending on for-profit companies that have been a really heavy part of … the administration’s spending on asylum seekers,” she said.
The Council has the authority to block aspects of the November budget modification, and Adams emphasized that she hasn’t received a full briefing on the modification.
The mayor had previously announced in September that the November budget plan would include 5% cuts for all city agencies, with the possibility of additional cuts in January and April if more federal and state migrant crisis aid is not received.