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NYPD Overtime For Wall Street Protests Divides City Council

Thursday, October 27, 2011

WNYC
Zucchotti Park, Occupy Wall Street, protesters Police clearing road for protesters on Oct. 5, 2011. (Stephen Nessen/WNYC)

The controversy over the cost of NYPD overtime related to the ongoing Occupy Wall Street protest continues to surface, but there are divergent opinions about the issue in the New York City Council, which oversees the city budget.

As of early October, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly publicly put the price tag for police overtime at $2 million, but Public Safety chair Councilman Peter Vallone said that number has since ballooned to $5 million.

Vallone believes the additional overtime comes at time when the police department has 7,000 fewer officers than it did a decade ago. The Queens councilman said the additional officers needed to secure the protest area and financial district comes at the expense of crime fighting in the outer boroughs.
 
"This is costing us, not just in money," Vallone said. "It is costing us over $5 million dollars now and that may cost us the next police class, but it is also costing us in our safety."

Vallone alluded to last Friday’s shooting of a mother of 12 who was killed in Brownsville as she shielded children from gang related gunfire.

"You've heard high ranking police officers quoted as saying we don't have the cops we need in areas like Brownsville because they are all down here forced to babysit at a park," Vallone said.
 
For Progressive Caucus Co-Chair Councilman Brad Lander from Brooklyn the cost of police overtime is worth it. He said the Occupy Wall Street movement is keeping pressure on Albany to not let the state's millionaire's tax lapse as scheduled at the end of December.

"So I would rather have a set of people pointing out growing income equality, pointing out that our tax system has gotten more regressive and saying we must maintain that millionaire's tax," Lander said.

Lander said the tax brings the state $5 billion dollars a year — $2 billion of which comes to the city.

Last year, the NYPD spent more than a half billion dollars in overtime.

The council’s concern over the issue comes as city agencies are scrambling to find ways to cut 2 percent of their current fiscal year budget and six percent in the next fiscal year. Those rollbacks are expected to help the city save $2 billion dollars overall.

In the last annual budget process, the city had to find ways to make up for both state and federal cuts in city aid. With the state and federal government facing their own economic problems, that trend is expected to continue.

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Comments [18]

Leo from Queens

The OT discussion is a smoke herring and a distraction - If you want to reduce OT just reduce police presence watching over the protesters by 25%. The police presence is overblown.
Then reduce the number of police officers currently working on revenue generation (productivity). During any given shift you have about 15-20% of the police officers on duty performing NON_POLICE work..Especially overnight you have officers who should be fighting/preventing crime going through residential neighborhoods literally scanning every single car for ANYTHING in order to issue tickets in order to meet revenue "productivity" quotas each precinct has to meet.
This is not the best use of police officers and they can be reassigned to police work thus eliminating the OT.
Revenue should be generated through legal taxes and fees that are debated and passed by elected officials who in turn can be held accountable..
It is dishonest, illegal and amounts to extortion to 'criminalize' ALL human activities in the city in order to extract money from tax payers. It's difficult to fight as in NYC you are a criminal until you can prove you are innocent and have to take multiple days from work to fight petty, illegal infractions.

Oct. 28 2011 03:35 PM
Mark

Also how come no one asks how much it costs to "stop and frisk" thousands of people of color every year?

Oct. 28 2011 03:55 AM
Salvatore Principato from Manhattan

The cost of a heavy handed police presence confronting Occupy Wall Street is in no way the fault of the protesters. The excessive police presence is a deliberate attempt to intimidate people from exercising their first amendment rights and to peaceably assemble. For the most part the citizens involved with these protest have been polite, peaceful & well disciplined though the same can't be said about the NYPD and when the authorities confront reasonable people with aggressive, mean spirited tactics it begs the civil contract between citizens and authorities to be shredded

Oct. 27 2011 04:16 PM
Onequarter Percent from NYC

What I love about the simplistic thinking of the folks "protesting" is their singular solution to all problems: tax the rich more, then tax 'em some more. Note to protesters: we (my gross last year from taking risks and WORKING was $1,800,000) of the upper income strata protect our income in tax-free bonds and treasuries. Any one percenter stupid enough to pay 50 cents of every dollar he/she earns deserves to be fleeced by the pandering politicians who write the tax code. but before you bring out the tar and feathers, although I paid almost 10% of my income in fed/state taxes I gifted nearly $765,000 to local and national charities. As a social liberal/fiscal conservative I don't want my $ going to some "right-to-life" organization or used to subsidize a war. So I would like to see the OWS schtick get own and start chucking Molatov cocktails as we did in the '60s, then I'll take them seriously. Until then, they're just a pimple on the ass of the city.

Oct. 27 2011 03:10 PM
Rick Feist from NYC

If you've visited Liberty Park, you've seen the massive police presence surrounding a few hundred overwhelmingly peaceful protesters. Wall Street itself is barricaded from the public, all in defense of the unapproachable altar of the NYSE. The heroic "occuppiers" brave the cold and rain for us. Clearly unemployment is so high and wages so low because our heads of industry feel entitled to help themselves to an ever greater share of the pie. The sad legacy of the mayor is the slide into a police state to protect his ilk.

Oct. 27 2011 02:32 PM
Sonne Hernandez from LES

Hey Suzanne and Brian, the banks DID pay. JP Morgan gave the city 4.3million dollars to keep wall street secure 2 days ago.

Oct. 27 2011 02:29 PM
Lambert from The Bronx

I'm an NYC tax payer too, and I'm sick and tired of seeing NYPD 'officers' forever doing nothing. It makes no difference what's going on, everywhere I go in the city all I see is cops hanging around in the street talking to each other, checking their email, on the phone, scratching their butts... anything but paying attention to the city.

I see them in little groups of two and three just shooting the breeze (makes a change from shooting the citizens I suppose).

Oct. 27 2011 01:30 PM
AmericanPieHole from Long Island

As I understand it this group are protesting wealth. It is apparent that most, if not all of these protesters don’t work. Perhaps someone should tell them that working creates wealth.

Oct. 27 2011 01:04 PM
Pete

Has anyone explained why the excessive number of police is even needed? I'm sure we all love to allocate our money to pay the overtime of the cities finest who on so many occasions have helped each of us, oh wait I’ve never seen them help anyone I know, ever. Keep padding that paycheck and stash it away for retirement - that is if you aren’t running guns on the dl or figured out a way to hit retirement early and collect 3/4. Who do they work for anyhow? It’s not us.

Oct. 27 2011 11:35 AM

It's nice that Council Member Vallone is concerned about NYC's finances. Perhaps, he should also be concerned about the number of police actually needed, how the police are selected for overtime and are there any alternatives than selecting police for overtime purposes. Where are the Auxiliary Police? Council Member Vallone and some of his colleagues on the Budget Committee should meet with Police Commissioner Kelly and try to find a way to reduce the police presence that are being paid at the overtime rate. The financial mess our nation's economy is in wasn't created by the Occupy Wall Street protesters. The voices and signs of Occupy Wall Street are spelling out the troubles created by the FED, Wall Street, Banks, greedy Corporate America and our Government. It's up to elected politicians to find a solution to fix the mess. If Council Member Vallone has been listening to the voices at Occupy Wall Street and reading their signs, does he have any ideas about how to fix the troubles that have impacted the 99%?

Oct. 27 2011 10:34 AM
Patrick from NYC

So....why isn't the "unbiased" NPR reporting on the depth of the "ACORN" organization in this so-called "protest?"

Oct. 27 2011 10:32 AM
long time lower manhattan resident

Vallone and his ilk are happy to march in every ethnic day parade and incur police and sanitation costs because it boosts visibility. It's hypocritical to want it both ways. Police coverage for parades but not protests? Get serious Vallone. BTW, the number of police on duty down here is way past excessive.

Oct. 27 2011 10:24 AM
Lauren from Chelsea

Vallone is a media whore. He is seeking the spotlight on this issue just to get his name in the press. His objective is not to support the City, but rather to get his 15 minutes of fame. $5 Million is a drop in the bucket - small price to pay for free speech.

Oct. 27 2011 09:32 AM
Christina

Angry mobs of people can get ugly quickly. That's why the cops are there.

Oct. 27 2011 09:30 AM
Jay from Woodside

As a NYC taxpayer, I would rather see my tax dollars being spent on fighting actual crime - not having dozens of officers standing around watching a group of unarmed people peaceably assembled (which, in my last read of the 1st Amendment, was expressly permitted). The only real violence I've seen thus far has been precipitated by police anti-terrorism techniques that don't work in these situations.

Oct. 27 2011 08:27 AM
Suzanne from #7 train

LET BANKS PAY OT! They have our money after all.

Oct. 27 2011 07:36 AM
John from office

Liz, because if not for the police being there it would not be peaceful and there would be more disruptions, and more drugs, and more nudity and even more of a freak show. Take a look for your self.

Oct. 27 2011 06:51 AM
Liz Ritter from Washington Heights


The City Council -- and the public -- can discuss whether $2m (or $5m?) in police costs is "worth it", but that discussion misses the point. Why does 1PP insist on a heavy police presence at peaceful protests downtown, instead of deploying those officers in communities where there is actual crime?

Oct. 27 2011 01:11 AM

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