New York Post
April 15, 2003

CHOPPING $PREE TARGETS COPS

By DAVID SEIFMAN

Cops Cut - HeadlineMayor Bloomberg today will unveil $1 billion in possible budget cuts touching on every aspect of city life - including chopping the NYPD by 1,360 cops - if state lawmakers don't provide enough aid to the city.

In a preview of the "doomsday" budget reductions that would be the most severe in decades, mayoral aides said last night the administration may have to shrink the police force from 37,210 to 35,850 to save $56.2 million.

That would be the lowest headcount since June 30, 1995, when the NYPD counted 36,429 men and women in uniform following a hiring boost and the merger with transit and housing units.

Three years ago, the figure was 40,285 - and that was before hundreds of officers were diverted to anti-terrorism duties.

Other parts of the dire plan included:

* 10,000 more potential layoffs citywide - over and above the 5,400 already announced.

* Eliminating 1,731 civilian jobs at the NYPD to save $59.2 million.

* Eliminating all after-school programs to save $69.9 million, as well as laying off 1,400 school aides.

* Whacking 1,057 jobs and $44.6 million from the Sanitation Department, resulting in fewer garbage pickups, less recycling and slower snow removal.

* Closing zoos in Brooklyn and Queens.

* Shutting the Department of Employment and consolidating other agencies, with the Fire Department assuming more emergency medical duties.

"Only Albany can prevent the contingency plan," declared one mayoral aide.

"This would be the most damaging round of cuts since the 1970s."

In Albany, talks between Gov. Pataki and legislative leaders collapsed yesterday without any progress on aid to the city.

Officials said the NYPD cuts would be accomplished by canceling a Police Academy class that would have started in July to replace retiring cops.

Union officials say nearly 4,000 cops called it quits last year - up from 3,000 in 2001 and 1,500 in 2000.

Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, said canceling the class would be a "real bad mistake."

"We will not be able to continue manning the terrorist posts and fighting crime," declared Lynch.

Prof. Eli Silverman of John Jay College, author of a 2001 study of the NYPD, agreed.

He pointed out that the 67 percent decline in crime since 1993 was fueled not just by smarter police strategies, but also by the addition of 6,000 cops.

State Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Queens), who was instrumental in hiring those cops under the Dinkins administration's "Safe Streets, Safe City" program, cautioned the mayor not to use the NYPD as a budget battering ram.

"We fought very hard to get the force up to the level it's at," recalled Padavan.

He said the threat of police cuts would create unnecessary apprehension among residents and wouldn't necessarily sway lawmakers to help the city.

Facing a budget deficit approaching $4 billion, Bloomberg is asking Albany for $1.7 billion in aid, including about $1 billion from a commuter tax Pataki has steadfastly refused to re-institute.

The city's $44.4 billion 2004 budget takes effect July 1.

Mayoral aides have been more optimistic in recent days that Albany will come through, perhaps with a regional commuter tax shared with suburban counties.

But talks involving Pataki, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno broke off abruptly yesterday.