Updated 09/24/2012 11:05 PM
Council Speaker Marches For Park Safety, Dislikes NYPD Budget Cuts
Following two publicized rapes in two city parks and a spike in major felony crimes, City Council Speaker Quinn said Monday that the NYPD should not have budget cuts, despite the mayor's claim that the agency can keep the city safe with fewer resources. NY1's Courtney Gross filed the following report.
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City Council Speaker Christine Quinn led a cadre of elected officials to Hudson River Park in Lower Manhattan early Monday, where a 21-year-old woman was allegedly raped two days before.
On September 12, a 73-year-old woman was also raped in Central Park.
The march was an attempt to prove the city would not tolerate crime.
Quinn said she will be organizing self-defense classes in both Hudson River Park and Central Park.
"They should feel confident about this park because there is a low level of crime. They should feel confident because when something happens, residents, the community board, the park, elected officials respond," said Quinn.
NYPD officials say while there has been an increase in the number of rapes in the city, in a majority of cases, the victim knew their attacker.
They add rapes involving strangers are actually down from last year.
However, major felonies are up across the city and the response time to crimes in progress is up 42 seconds.
While the murder rate remain lows, high-profile crimes have caught the attention of officials. They also come on the heels of a directive from Mayor Michael Bloomberg: do more with less.
"We haven't cut the NYPD in a long time. Our number-one objective is to keep the city safe and if I thought spending more money would make a difference, I would," the mayor said.
He just ordered more budget cuts, nearly 3 percent for the NYPD this year and another 4 percent next year.
It is setting off a battle between the mayor and the speaker.
"The bottom line is we are not going to put a cop on every street corner. We just can't afford to do that," said Bloomberg.
"We should exempt the NYPD in total from the mid-year budget cuts," Quinn said.
Union officials are blasting the mayor letting the ranks shrink.
"We're down 7000 police officers as we speak. That affects every neighborhood precinct," said Patrolmen's Benevolent Association President Pat Lynch. "Today we stand and have the United Nations coming to town. Those police officers who stand around the United Nations for our president to come to town, come from your neighborhoods."
Lynch said it is the reason why overtime costs at the NYPD are on the rise. According to the Mayor's Management Report, it has increased from $476 million in 2008 to $586 million in 2012.
Other agencies may have it worse. Social services are facing cuts twice the size of the NYPD.
The mayor hopes the latest round of budget cuts will save the city $2 billion over the next two years. Agencies will submit the specifics of their proposals next week.