NEW YORK — The City Council voted down a request to boost NYPD officers’ pensions Thursday after progressive politicians refused to back the bill.
The legislation — a formal request to Albany to give higher pensions to long-serving cops — went down in defeat after it failed to get the required supermajority vote at a Council meeting.
It received 30 yes votes, short of the 34 needed from the 51-member Council. Four members voted no, while 16 abstained.
It’s the first time in decades — since the 1990s, when budget modification votes were known to fail, according to a Council spokesperson — a bill has gone up on the Council floor and failed.
“Police have been getting away with a lot of things in this city, with a bloated budget, with police brutality and killings, without any penalties or consequences,” said Brooklyn Council member Charles Barron, who voted against the measure. “As much as I have a heart for their families, when it comes to the police, they just get away with everything.”
The bill, known as a home rule message, would have asked the state legislature to pass a measure to change how police officers’ pensions are calculated — giving an average boost of $5,300 a year to certain cops who worked 25 years, and $15,300 a year to those who worked 30 years.
The debate: The measure was meant to “incentivize experienced police officers to remain members of the department for their entire career,” said Speaker Adrienne Adams.
It was one of several home rule messages taken up at a specially scheduled Council meeting, ahead of the end of the Albany legislative session next week.
But a group of members on the left objected to the bill or quietly abstained.
“The white supremacy that exists in the police department, where it is most entrenched, does tend to be” among longtime officers, claimed Kristin Richardson Jordan, a Harlem Democrat who voted no. “The newer members of the department tend to be the more progressive and more diverse.”
Amanda Farias of the Bronx said she was abstaining “due to our inability to actually predict the numbers of [first grade officers] to retire and the full scope of the economic impact on the city.”
Conservative members rebuked opponents of the bill for their comments.
“It is totally irresponsible to use terms like white supremacy when we are talking about pension benefits for police officers,” said Council member Ari Kagan, a moderate Democrat from Brooklyn. “Rhetoric like this and irresponsible words like this could lead to more violence against law enforcement.”
Joe Borelli, the Republican minority leader, asked fellow pols “not to cast aspersions on members of the city workforce.”
“If there are people that they believe are racist or white supremacist within any organization … present the evidence,” he said, adding they should “not just engage in broad painting of the brush to members of our city workforce while we’re debating a pension bill.”
The head of the city's largest police union predicted the no vote would have far-reaching ramifications. “We are disappointed that some Council members continue to put their ideology before the safety of their constituents. The NYPD has experienced record levels of attrition over the past two years and has struggled to recruit enough diverse, talented cops to replace the ones who left,” said Police Benevolent Association President Pat Lynch. “This bill provides an incentive for experienced patrol cops to remain on the job, the same kind of incentive that already exists for other NYPD ranks. It also incentivizes new recruits and younger cops to take and keep the job, even in this hostile, anti-police climate. Unfortunately, some Council members just want to perpetuate that climate. When cops continue to quit in droves, it will be our neighborhoods that suffer.”
A separate pension bill to allow police to borrow against their retirement contributions did pass.
“We have a body of members with diverse opinions, which is an asset that we’re not going to seek to stamp out. Leadership seeks to align members by providing direction, addressing concerns, and finding common ground, where possible, and that’s our focus,” said Mandela Jones, a spokesperson for the Council.