The New York City Police Department’s uniformed cadre has shrunk significantly in number — and as a share of city spending — even as the Big Apple’s population has grown to just under 8.5 million now from about 7 million in 1980.
And that’s on top of a host of laws and court orders that make it harder for cops (and prosecutors) to do their jobs, from bans on “vertical patrols” in housing projects to making police personally liable if an arrest goes wrong to the infamous “no bail” statute to the discovery changes that make it a paperwork nightmare to even indict a suspect.
In 2000, the number of uniformed NYPD officers hit an all-time high of 40,285. Today, that headcount stands at just under 34,000 — about 1,200 officers below the budgeted level — as the department has been racked by a record number of retirements and resignations .
The NYPD is on track to lose a total of 3,000-plus officers this year. City Hall’s recruitment efforts are failing to offset even the raw-number losses — and the lost years of experience are impossible to replace.
This is why OT is exploding: The city’s having the remaining cops work longer hours to try to make up for the force’s shrinkage as every precinct struggles to maintain its mandated patrol strength.
Meanwhile, every police-community meeting is full of regular New Yorkers asking for more officers on the streets.
But local political races are dominated by cop-haters, because winning a Democratic primary is the real challenge in most of the city and the hard left rules in those low-turnout elections.
Some shrinkage of the NYPD made sense after 2000, as effective policing drove down crime to make New York the safest big city in America.
But after 9/11, the brass had to divert major resources to anti-terrorism work.
And the headcount shrank even more to make room for greater spending on schools and homelessness.
Then came the de Blasio years
Not that the city’s seeing results from those spending hikes: Worsening schools and out-of-control homeless are among the factors driving families to leave New York — along, of course, with rising crime.
The city needs more police officers, not fewer. We need leaders who prioritize protecting the public over making it easier for criminals to do their “jobs.”
Mayor Eric Adams won office by vowing to bring a turnaround on crime.
He’s had some limited success, but it won’t hold up unless the NYPD stops shrinking and starts growing again. #RefundThePolice.
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