For months, Mayor Bill de Blasio has resisted calls by the City Council and his own police commissioner, William Bratton, to increase the NYPD's headcount, and now, after weeks of publicly lobbying the mayor, Bratton sounds like he is turning down the volume. NY1's Bobby Cuza filed the following report.
As recently as last weekend, Police Commissioner William Bratton was talking not only about the need for more officers, but also how he could use them, like creating a 450-person counter-terrorism unit. Thursday, that seemed to change.
Julissa Ferreras, City Council Finance Committee Chair: Where do you see that you would be able to allocate them?
Bratton: I won't speak to that.
Appearing at a City Council budget hearing, Bratton appeared to dial down his advocacy. Over two-and-a-half hours of testimony, he described a wide range of budget items and boasted of improved police community relations, but despite prodding from Council members, who support adding 1,000 new officers, Bratton said he could make do with existing resources.
"If and when more officers are allocated, then we'll make a decision how we utilize them. But that process now is really in the hands of both the mayor's office and the City Council," Bratton said.
Bratton's testimony was interrupted repeatedly by protesters, all of whom were ejected. It eventually led to all members of the public being removed from the chambers.
While Bratton and the City Council agree on the need for more police officers, Bratton was less enthusiastic about a Council proposal that would require NYPD safety officers be assigned to private schools.
"I would have other priorities for how I would assign resources, rather than to the assignment to private schools," Bratton said.
Meanwhile, after weeks of saying he was confident NYPD headcount would be increased, Bratton on Thursday would only say he's an optimist.
"My wife will tell you that. I'm optimistic about everything. So we will see," he said.