Watchdog group predicts city will spend $400 million over NYPD overtime cap

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A protester smiles as he is detained by NYPD officers for being involved in a looting of a store after marching against the death in Minneapolis police custody of George Floyd, in the Manhattan borough of New York City, U.S., June 2, 2020. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz

By Alejandra O’Connell-Domenech

New York City’s Independent Budget Office is skeptical that the city will be able to slash next year’s NYPD overtime costs. Instead, the budget watchdog group predicts that the department will spend $400 million more than what was outlined in the 2021 city budget, according to a new report released Tuesday.

In order to appease protesters demanding police reform, the New York City Council and Mayor Bill de Blasio agreed to shrink the NYPD’s normally $6 billion operating budget by $1 billion. In order to do so, the city canceled the planned hiring of 1,160 officers, shifted the responsibility of homeless outreach away from the department, promised to move school safety agents out of the NYPD and pledged to reduce the NYPD’s overtime expenses by $335 million, setting a cap at $268 million for 2021.

However, some called the NYPD “cuts” smoke and mirrors. The IBO prediction is the most recent indication that the city used fuzzy math to reimagine the NYPD costs during this year’s budget process.

But the city has had challenges in controlling the use of overtime in the past, the report notes, and for the last three years, NYPD overtime costs have averaged $723 million. “The budget assumes overtime can be reduced by roughly 60 %,” the report says. “No reductions in overtime are scheduled for 2022 through 2024.”

“We don’t have the things that the NYPD used to put in for overtime,” de Blasio told reporters on Tuesday when asked to respond the IBO prediction.” We don’t have big parades and events and there are a lot of things not happening in New York City for the foreseeable future.” De Blasio added that the city had to find a way to “tighten its belt” with all agencies given the economic crisis.

Shortly before budget negotiations in June, de Blasio warned that up to 22,000 municipal workers could be laid off this fall to help the city climb out of a $9 billion hole in lost tax revenue caused by novel coronavirus shutdown.

But if there is anything New Yorkers have learned this year is to expect the unexpected in 2020. During the first two weeks of the city’s mass George Floyd protests alone, New York City paid NYPD officers $115 million in overtime, four times more than what was spent during the same time last year, according to the IBO.

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