NYC mayor promises ‘intense change’ with police reform proposals amid calls to defund law enforcement, including shifting resources from NYPD and publicizing officers’ disciplinary records

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New York City Police Department officers. Justin Heiman/Getty Images
  • New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio proposed four police reforms during a Sunday press conference, after lifting the city’s curfew one day early.
  • He announced that the city would shift funding and resources from the NYPD to youth and social services: “I want people to understand that we are committed to shifting resources to ensure that the focus is on our young people.”
  • The mayor also proposed reforming law 50-a, which currently prevents police officers’ disciplinary records from being made public.
  • de Blasio added that the NYPD would no longer be responsible for street vendor enforcement, and that the city is going to hire “community ambassadors” to liaise between the community and police.

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On Sunday, New York City mayor Bill de Blasio announced a series of police reforms after lifting the city’s 8 p.m. curfew one day ahead of schedule.

“We are lifting the curfew, effective immediately. Yesterday and last night we saw the very best of our city,” de Blasio tweeted Sunday morning. “Tomorrow we take the first big step to restart.”

During a subsequent press conference Sunday, the mayor outlined four police reforms to address officer accountability, including diverting NYPD funding and resources towards youth and social services, and reforming legislation that prevents police officers’ disciplinary records from being made public.

“It takes, in New York City, too long for there to be accountability for officers who do the wrong thing. That is a tradition that must change,” de Blasio said.

The mayor said the city’s task force on racial equity and inclusion is looking into “much bigger and deeper reforms that have to happen after that” in order to tackle racial disparities in the city.

Four future reforms

Mayor Bill de Blasio
New York City mayor Bill de Blasio AP Photo/Richard Drew

First, de Blasio announced that the city government would be shifting police department funding and resources towards youth services.

“The details will be worked out in the budget process in the weeks ahead. But I want people to understand that we are committed to shifting resources to ensure that the focus is on our young people,” he said.

The mayor also supports reforming 50-a, a section of New York Civil Rights Law that deems the “personnel records” of police officers, firefighters and corrections officers “confidential and not subject to inspection or review” without the officer’s permission.

“Let’s make 50-A as we knew it a thing of the past, so we can have transparency in the disciplinary process to give the public confidence,” de Blasio added.

He announced that street vendor enforcement will no longer be under NYPD purview: “a civilian agency should handle that.”

“The vendor and administrative enforcement will be moved out of the NYPD, so that code violations will not require an officer whose presence could escalate an encounter,” Chirlane McCray, a co-chair of the new racial equity task force, added.

Lastly, the mayor said the city government will hire “community ambassadors” to liaise between community members and senior level police officers.

New york protest brooklyn bridge
Thousands of protesters march over the Brooklyn Bridge to demonstrate against the death of George Floyd in New York on June 4, 2020. Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The mayor’s announcement came as the movement to defund the police has garnered significant support across the US, but leaders have offered mixed responses on how to answer this call.

Congressional Black Caucus Chair Rep. Karen Bass told Jake Tapper on CNN “State of the Union” Sunday, she doesn’t “believe that you should disband police departments.”

“But I do think that in cities and states we need to look at how we are spending the resources and invest more in our communities,” she said.

DC Mayor Muriel Bowser in a radio interview with rapper Lil Wayne said, “communities need good police” when asked about defunding her city’s law enforcement.

Meanwhile, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey was booed out of a Black Lives Matter demonstration Saturday after he told protesters he would not defund the city’s police department.

“This is a beginning,” de Blasio said of his proposals. “I want it to be abundantly clear to all New Yorkers. These are first steps in what will be 18 months of making intense change in this city.

“This is a transformative moment.”