The NYPD and other urban police departments could save hundreds of millions of dollars by farming out “non-core” services to private outfits and have their officers focus almost exclusively on combating and preventing crime, a new study finds.
The “Enhancing Public Safety While Saving Public Dollars with Auxiliary Private Security Agents” analysis by the Montreal Economic Institute noted that traffic control and minor accidents consume 13% to 19% of an officer’s time.
“Offloading 75% of traffic management duties to trained private agents has the potential to save an enormous amount of time and money for police departments,” the study said.
In addition, tasks such as escort duty, follow-up interviews with witnesses, preparing affidavits and warrants and data collection could be handled by civilians, the report said.
The study estimated $35.3 million in savings for the Miami-Dade PD in Florida, $22 million for Milwaukee, Wisc., and $177.4 million for the Los Angeles PD over a 15-year period.
The NYPD was not covered in the study. But the researchers estimated for The Post that New York’s Finest could save as much as $415 million over time by privatizing administrative and traffic control functions.
“While New York has recently passed a number of reforms, more can and should be done. It’s time to reset the balance between core and non-core policing activities. By doing so, we can make our communities safer, preserve public resources, and increase police officers’ job satisfaction,” said Krystie Wittevrongel, lead researcher of the study.
“More time spent on actual policing would do wonders for public safety, especially considering the NYPD is the largest police department in the country,” she said.
The NYPD had no immediate comment.
But the NYC Police Benevolent Association slammed the privatization plan as playing into the hand of the “defund the police movement.”
“This proposal is nothing more than private security contractors trying to cash in on the ‘Defund the Police’ movement. Arresting a drunken or high driver is a core police duty – you’re depriving one person of their liberty to save others’ lives,” said city PBA president Patrick Lynch.
“That requires training, judgement, and accountability. Do we really want our safety and freedom in the hands of the lowest bidder? Public safety must remain a public good, not a source of profit.”
The report acknowledged that officers would still conduct DWI arrests.
“While there is a need for sworn officers with the power of arrest at sobriety checkpoints, there are also tasks that need not be carried out by such officers, such as conducting initial screenings, operating breathalyzers, and managing traffic,” the study said.
There’s been an ongoing debate about taking some social duties out of the hands of the NYPD that don’t purely involve crime fighting.
Mayor Eric Adams in February announced new social services teams to reach homeless individuals and the mentally ill in the subways and persuade them to go into shelter and connect them to services, instead of just relying on police.
Meanwhile, the NYPD oversees school safety agents in the public schools. There’s a tug-of-war from education activists to strip the NYPD of that function and have agents instead managed by the Department of Education.
Labor lawyer Arthur Schwartz said the NYPD already uses civilians to perform certain functions, such as the traffic agents who issue parking tickets and direct traffic and who make considerably less than cops He served as a legal consultant to one of the unions representing traffic agents.
He said he saw no reason why civilians couldn’t handle sobriety checkpoints.
But Schwartz argued that workers who perform such functions should be city government employees with civil service and union protections — not non-union workers employed by private contractors.