New York City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams said Tuesday she agrees with the “premise” that the city budget should prioritize community investments like housing and mental health services over funding the NYPD — a controversial concept that recently split the Council’s Progressive Council and eventually led to several members dropping out of it.
Adams, who spoke with WNYC’s Brian Lehrer on Tuesday morning, noted that she did not sign the commitment that split the caucus, but when asked if she agreed with its general premise, she said, “I would go with that.” Yeah.”
Her position opens the door to a potential showdown with Mayor Adams, who has made crime-fighting a cornerstone of his administration and keeps the NYPD well-funded.
The pledge says the gathering will “do everything we can to reduce the size and reach of the NYPD … and prioritize and fund alternative security infrastructure that truly invests in our communities.”
The rift this caused resulted in 15 of the original 35 band members jumping ship.
Adams is an ex officio member of this meeting and several other members of the Council, but said she does not participate in their day-to-day activities.
Her remarks about the promise and its premise, and other comments she made during the radio broadcast with Lehrer, provide a clearer picture of how the Council can proceed in ongoing budget talks with Mayor Adams, who is unrelated to the speaker.
“I’m going to support all investments in many of the security solutions we fought for in last year’s budget, such as trauma recovery centers and crime victim services,” she said. “This budget needs to prioritize investment and similar services.”
A day earlier, the Speaker of the Council presided over a budget hearing that considered the NYPD vastly over budget for overtime pay, as well as its Strategic Response Team, which came under fire for its response to demonstrations in 2020 protesting the police killing of George. Floyd. in Minneapolis.
On Monday, she said the city needed to “curb” NYPD OT and that the Council would “take a close look” at it during budget talks.
“We asked very tough questions. The responses we received were largely about what they were doing to fix the overtime situation, not what actually led them to it in the last fiscal year. So we are very concerned and we will have to take a serious look at this,” she said. “I dare say no other agency can get away with this.”