New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo slammed the New York City Council’s move strip the New York Police Department of $1 billion in funding, questioning “what it means” and calling for concrete action.
“I don’t know what it means,” Cuomo said during a press briefing Wednesday. “What does that mean? Does this mean I am less safe? Where did you take the billion dollars from? Does it mean I am more safe? Does it have any effect on police abuse? I don’t know what it means.”
Cuomo’s comments came after the New York City Council passed a budget Tuesday night that shifted $1 billion from the New York Police Department to programs that assist youth and community development.
Cuomo also took a veiled swipe at New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who confirmed Wednesday morning that the city would paint “Black Lives Matter” outside Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan in the coming days.
“We’re going to paint ‘Black Lives Matter’ on the street in front of Trump HQ. Great,” Cuomo said. “From day one, I said I stand with Black Lives Matter. From Day one, I said I stand with protesters. I said great what this nation has done standing up after Mr. Floyd’s murder…I’m sorry it took so long. Why couldn’t we have done it after Eric Garner six years ago? Or Rodney King 30 years ago? But now we’re here. Great.”
He added: “Send that message to Mr. Trump, ‘Black Lives Matter,’ excessive force has to stop. Using the National Guard to stop protesters has to stop….Tell every police department in the United States of America enough is enough. Great. Great. Great.
“You know what’s better?” He continued. “Do something. Do something. Do something.”
He added: “You know where you start? You start at home. You know where change starts. Change starts with the person in the mirror.”
Cuomo went on to say that “there is no respect and trust between the community and the police.”
“That’s what’s going on,” Cuomo said. “And if you don’t have respect and trust, you have nothing. It does not work. It is like a marriage.
“The community has said the relationship with the police department doesn’t work, and if it doesn’t work for the community, then it doesn’t work,” he continued. “You have to redesign the whole relationship.”
Cuomo also said the police department was designed “50 years ago” and with “a totally different mindset,” while noting it can be “whatever the community wants it to be,” and that it is “paid for by the taxpayers.”
“Bring the police, the politicians, the community together. Start with a blank piece of paper,” Cuomo said. “It’s going to be a hard conversation.”
Last month, Cuomo signed an executive order that included a statewide ban on chokeholds and an appointment of a special prosecutor to review cases of police killing unarmed individuals. The legislation also made fake race-based 911 calls a crime.
Cuomo also signed an executive order that would withhold funds from police departments that were not directed toward reforms. The order required police departments across the state to work with communities to enact further reforms. That order required that every city and county had to “reinvent” and “modernize” its police strategies by April 1. If a locality failed to do so by the deadline next year, the area would not be eligible for state funding.
“Redesign the police departments and pass a law on the new plan of the police departments by April or they don’t get state funding,” Cuomo again explained Wednesday. “Why did you do that? Because I knew they weren’t going to have a real conversation, and I wanted to create the vehicle where they would have to have the real conversation.”
Some of the questions Cuomo proposed be included in “the real conversation” are: “What is your use of force policy? What does it mean to demilitarize the police? How many staff does it need? What functions do you want it to perform? What should the budget be? What do you mean by defund the police.
“And then get it passed by the city council, so it’s not just what the mayor thinks,” Cuomo said, noting that the more than 500 police departments across the state of New York are all “a little different.”“What Buffalo wants is different from what New York City wants.”
After the New York City Council passed its budget Tuesday, it said in a statement that the city’s 2021 budget will include $837 million in cuts and transfers to the New York Police Department (NYPD) expense budget, which removes $1 billion from the NYPD’s spending when combined with associated costs.
The amount is far less than what some protesters demanded. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., said earlier that $1.5 billion in cuts would not be enough.
De Blasio, on Wednesday, touted the “profound change” in the budget, noting that the city is “taking money from the police and putting it into youth initiatives,” while also taking other measures, such as “getting rid of solitary confinement in our jails.”
“We have to be in a constant place of reform,” de Blasio said.