Now is the time to stand with communities of color to correct historical inequalities and oppression. Now is the time to raise our voices to call for resilience and equity throughout our frontline communities. The changes we need to make to our City demand everyone's participation.
Here are three concrete policies we can start with on day 1:
Use the City Council’s budget-making power to ensure positive change is brought to our communities.
Hold our police officers accountable to set precedent in every department across the city so that every new officer knows the bounds of their ability by moving prosecution to the State Attorneys General office.
Withdraw from the 1033 Program to demilitarize our police force and stop the stockpiling of military equipment.
We need to put our money where our mouth is. We must make sure our residents and communities have what they need to succeed.
We have allowed too many people to suffer under a broken system. It is time for real change. On June 12, 2020, Governor Cuomo issued executive order 203, mandating that all police departments develop a community involvement plan for reform. If they don’t, they risk losing state funding. This executive order is a step towards repairing community relationships, but repairs cost money. The City Council needs to hold the Mayor accountable for his budget. The City Council must make sure that real, positive change happens and it must use its power to make sure money is allocated to do so.
Domestic disputes, mental health emergencies, social service questions -- our police have been asked to respond to all of these problems because funding does not exist to pay for appropriate responses by trained personnel. The City Council and Mayor’s office create the yearly budget together. The City Council can shift funding from the NYPD to other sectors. This will grow community strength and resilience and create publicly available help for those in need. Police should not be the first responders in these delicate situations and it is time we make the changes that have been so desperately needed for so long. We need to move funding to support long term growth in several areas, including education, infrastructure, and resilience so that our residents and their kids can have what they need to succeed.
Creating a system of accountability will hold “bad apples” in the police force accountable and set an example for other officers.
After the murder of George Floyd by officer Derrick Chauvin, the Minnesota Attorney General took over the case, upgraded the charges and filed new charges against three other officers involved. This is the kind of accountability -- at the state level -- that we need for our residents, and we aren't getting it under the current system. Right now, NYPD officers who commit crimes in their official capacity are tried by the District Attorney in the county or borough where the crime was committed. This is a conflict of interest because the DA offices work closely with police departments every day. Therefore, the prosecution of police officers should be moved under the jurisdiction of the New York State Attorney General’s office. This will rid the system of conflicts and provide real oversight and accountability.
Military equipment has no place in a civilian police force. It needs to go.
Military equipment has no place in a civilian police force. It needs to be banned from our cities because we do not live in war zones. The NYPD should not participate in the 1033 program, which allows local police departments across the country to purchase excess military-grade equipment, like armored vehicles, ammunition, and military-grade weapons. Participation in and use of the 1033 program is proven to make police more confrontational and violent. We need to prevent the NYPD from buying or stockpiling military equipment from defense contractors.
How we spend our city budget is a direct reflection of our priorities.
The budget crisis, triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic, created a budget freeze for teachers and cuts to social services, but virtually no cuts to the NYPD. New York City has twice as many police officers per capita as Los Angeles. We need to shift this entirely; we must invest in our future, in education, and in social work. Very quickly in the aftermath of Floyd's murder, I joined with other City Council Candidates and District Attorney Candidate Janos Marton supporting a call for a reduction in the NYPD Operating Budget. I vowed to reject police campaign donations. I am proud to have done that quickly and acknowledge that as the conversation developed, the original defunding call was not strong enough.