Fierce Debate Over NYPD's Budget Amid Calls To Defund The Police

Activists want police department budgets reduced, and the money reinvested in community programs. While union officials agree changes need to be made, they say the current rhetoric is taking a toll on the NYPD. Andrea Grymes reports.

Video Transcript

- Activists want police department budgets reduced, and then the money reinvested in community programs.

- While union officials agree changes need to be made, they say the current rhetoric is taking a toll on the NYPD. CBS 2's Andrea Grymes reports.

ANDREA GRYMES: How is morale?

PAT LYNCH: It's at an all-time low. It's the most difficult time and the most complex time to be a New York City police officer.

ANDREA GRYMES: Police Benevolent Association president Pat Lynch worries about his members-- some 24,000 NYPD officers. He believes many elected officials do not support them at a time when thousands are taking to the streets to protest police.

PAT LYNCH: We get criticized for other states, other towns, and policies that we don't make. Reform has to be broadly looked at-- how do you make a better police department and how do you make a more effective police department. That conversation is not happening.

ANDREA GRYMES: Lynch points to several factors, including calls to defund the police, a rallying cry thrust into the mainstream after George Floyd's death.

PAT LYNCH: Defund the police means to disband the police. Make no mistake about it.

CHIVONA NEWSOM: I actually believe we're moving in the right direction towards abolishment, and that starts with defunding the police.

ANDREA GRYMES: Trevena Newsom is co-founder of Black Lives Matter Greater New York. She believes the country needs to completely reimagine policing, and it begins with taking money away from police budgets, including the NYPDs.

The real reason for reallocation of those funds, and why we see the police are truly not needed, is because areas with the highest rates of unemployment, they also have the highest murder rates. So if we took that money and invest it in community, there would be less of a need for police.

ANDREA GRYMES: Newsom pointed to initiatives like Cure Violence, where trained civilians mediate neighborhood issues before they result in crime.

ANDRE MITCHELL: When you really target important resources to the persons and people who need it most, you take away half their problems.

ANDREA GRYMES: Andre Mitchell founded Man Up! Inc. In East New York Brooklyn 12 years ago, an area recently that has among the most shootings in the city. But critics are concerned about what reallocating police funds means for public safety at a time when shootings and subway assaults are up. Last summer, Mayor De Blasio and the City Council cut $1 billion from the NYPD's nearly $6 billion budget, in part cutting a police class, reducing overtime, shifting school safety and homeless outreach out of the NYPD.

The city says, instead, some of that money went to summer youth programs, education, and family and social services. This year, the Mayor proposed a slight increase for the NYPD.

ANGEL MAYSONET: If you don't have a well-funded, well-trained police department and a community that's on board, a community that's teaching their children to respect the police as opposed to hate the police, right, it's never going to work.

PAT LYNCH: You need to have continuing education in the New York City Police Department. And you need to have training that helps us do both ends of the job.

ANDREA GRYMES: This year, the Mayor's budget proposal includes funding for a new police precinct in Queens, which will also house a new community center. Plus more money for police overtime, the commissioner says, will help fight crime. In Midtown Andrea Grymes, "CBS 2 News."