New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, in a sharp shift from his initial objections, will add nearly 1,300 police officers, which the New York Times calls a a surprising addition to a $78.5 billion budget deal announced last night. Increasing the police force had been a top priority of City Council speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Police Commissioner William Bratton. The move has been opposed by some advocates for criminal justice reform, and it is expected to add at least $100 million to the budget.
The mayor has been hesitant to hire more officers, saying he felt comfortable with the near-record-low level of crime. He has come under intense pressure after a notable increase in homicides and shootings compared with last year. In what de Blasio called a “pioneering” step in police reform, the city is expected to debut a new neighborhood-based policing model in which patrol officers would spend one-third of their day away from radio calls to develop closer relationships with residents of their precincts. Monifa Bandele of the advocacy group Communities United for Police Reform opposed a police force increase “when systemic problems with police accountability and culture that allow New Yorkers to be abused and killed have yet to be fixed.”