New York Post
May 7, 2010

Boosting police presence

By Reid J. Epstein

Some officials praised New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg yesterday for restoring 892 police positions to his proposed $62.9 billion 2010-11 city budget.

Comptroller John Liu said last Saturday's attempted Times Square bombing made it clear the city's police department is a top city priority.

"Recent events re-emphasized public safety as a priority and the mayor is doing the right thing in not further reducing the police force," Liu said.

The move will allow the police department to increase the size of a planned July police class from 250 new offiers to 1,200, said Paul Browne, the chief NYPD spokesman.

Browne said restoring the positions, which would have been lost to attrition, was in the works before Faisal Shahzad, a Pakistani-born U.S. citizen living in Connecticut, left an explosives-packed SUV on West 45th Street.

"There were discussions about this prior to Times Square," Browne said. "If that played a role, I don't know."

Others said having fewer police officers would put the nation's largest city at risk.

"We must remember that the most recent attempt at terrorism ... was only foiled because there was a police officer on the corner," PBA president Patrick Lynch said.

And Councilman Peter Vallone, Jr. (D-Queens), the chairman of the council's public safety committee, said a recent uptick of violent crimes in the city forced Bloomberg to maintain current police staffing levels.

"It would have been much harder to reverse the trend," Vallone said. "In the present budget situation, just staving off these cuts is a huge victory."

The police force is at 34,850 officers, Browne said.

Manhattan borough president Scott Stringer said Bloomberg "deserves credit" for stopping police staffing reductions "especially in the wake of Saturday's attempted bombing in Times Square."