Dear New York City Council members:
It is time to fire Bill Bratton.
We understand that the NYPD police commissioner, Bill Bratton is going to approach you to ask for 1000 more police officers on our streets, this, after the people have clearly spoken by putting their bodies in the street to reject the current way in which policing has brought nothing but harm to our communities. The one clear byproduct of Broken Windows policing is the massive income generation to New York City - income from unnecessary fines that only increase every year.
We realize that the city council has an outrageous plan to spend $97 million in the current budget towards these 1000 additional police.
There is still time for you to prove that you serve on City Council to serve the people, and not continue to feed the transactional political machine. What is it? Are your creature comforts running low? We understand this is business as usual. We understand that perhaps you have no imagination for a new way of community. New York City is a famous town for political corruption. The City Council is simply honoring a tradition, we get it. If the next step is State government, you need a worthy training ground.
In understanding the challenge you face in how to focus your collective efforts, we would like to share suggestions raised by Safety Beyond Policing and encourage you to further review their counter recommendations carefully.
Adding more cops to a militarized department based in racist Broken Windows policing will only add more fuel to the fire. The NYPD is by far the largest police force in America. It also has one of the highest national police to citizen ratios. Increasing an already massive police force does not make us safer and only guarantees even more Broken Windows-based policing by cops operating more and more like counter-terrorism troops.
What does 'public safety' mean? According to a PROP study the NYPD already costs us $1 Million a day from low-level arrests. The (known) NYPD budget has grown to over $4.7 Billion for FY 2015. We need to talk about community safety in a nuanced way that acknowledges how law enforcement is actually seen by our communities.
We don’t need more cops. We want strong communities.
Communities of color are being systematically over-policed while also being displaced by rising rent and gentrification. We must repair the damage of mass criminalization and help people return to their communities instead of squandering resources. Resources that help our communities thrive, lift our social net and also lower core drivers of crime are key and we demand the City Council invest the $97 million annual dollars proposed for 1,000 new cops instead towards those solutions instead. - Safety Beyond Policing
We would additionally like to counter Commissioner Bratton’s request with our own:
10k fewer cops on the street
With fewer officers on the streets the department might have to reconsider its priorities. There would likely not be enough cops on the street to spend time targeting pregnant women or criminalizing homelessness. While the quality of life for tens of thousands of New Yorkers would improve, it is true that the city would lose the budgeted income which comes from targeting those who can least afford citations. That loss would be somewhat offset by the salaries no longer required, but there are a few other ways to make ends meet.
Instead of raising this money from our communities, already stretched beyond the breaking point, the City Council could:
impose a 95% tax on all capital gains earnings over $1 million USD.
That will more than cover whatever you would be squeezing out of us. What would you do with the surplus? Here are the broad strokes: child care, schools, food, homes for those who need them, medicines, a robust free transportation system, and social services guaranteed to improve the quality of life for all New Yorkers.
The sociopathic capitalist vision of Commissioner Bratton, is not one shared by the majority of New Yorkers, and not even one shared by a lot of the NYPD. One thousand more cops, targeting regular city residents with quality of life violations, equals, at least 10k more arrested for the crime of falling prey to the staggering resource inequality of New York City. Again, did you catch the point about overall crime being down to "historic lows"?
To be clear, Commissioner Bratton is in the police business. Commissioner Bratton sees the public as a resource from which to extract profit. This policing model (or entrepreneurship, however you want to spin it) is an affront to the idea of “serve and protect”. It undermines our trust in the system. It is disruptive to our communities. It criminalizes everyday activity because frightened politicians are too afraid of raising revenue by taxing those who can afford to pay. To quote the late Mr. Garner, "This Ends Today".
With new budget considerations, based firmly with your communities in mind, you would, collectively, set a strong new ambition for the rest of the United States. We need to build each other up, not fund a sociopathic capitalist model fed by the blood of our communities. We could dream together new ways of enforcing the law.
If the New York City Council moves forward with this $97 million plan for 1000 new police officers, we will encourage the community to issue formal complaints with the Department of Corruption of NYC to start a formal investigation. It is time to look at the data of crime in New York City, and to discover why, when we are safer than ever, the choice is made to increase unnecessary punitive measures that injure everyone.
cc: Maria del Carmen Arroyo, Inez Barron, Fernando Cabrera, Margaret Chin, Andrew Cohen, Robert Cornegy, Costa Constantinides, Elizabeth Crowley, Laurie Cumbo, Chaim M. Deutsch, Inez E. Dickens, Daniel Dromm, Rafael Espinal, Mathieu Eugene, Julissa Ferreras, Daniel R. Garodnick, Vincent Gentile, Vanessa Gibson, David G. Greenfield, Vincent Ignizio, Corey Johnson, Andy King, Ben Kallos, Peter Koo, Karen Koslowitz, Rory Lancman, Brad Lander, Stephen Levin, Mark Levine, Alan Maisel, Melissa Mark-Viverito, Steven Matteo, Darlene Mealy, Carlos Menchaca, Rosie Mendez, I. Daneek Miller, Annabel Palma, Antonio Reynoso, Donovan Richards, Ydanis Rodriguez, Deborah Rose, Helen Rosenthal, Ritchie Torres, Mark Treyger, Eric Ulrich, James Vacca, Paul Vallone, Jimmy Van Bramer, Mark Weprin, Jumaane D. Williams, Ruben Wills