Mayor de Blasio was asked point-blank Friday if he would slash at least $1 billion from the NYPD’s $6 billion operating budget.
He would not commit.
“We’re working with the City Council right now," he said. "We don’t have a final dollar figure. But we’re going to do something very, very substantial. We’ll know more in the next few days.”
De Blasio was taking questions from callers to WNYC’s The Brian Lehrer Show, including demonstrators who were among the hundreds — sometimes thousands — who’ve sent up an encampment outside his City Hall offices.
A central demand of Occupy City Hall is the defunding of the NYPD.
In particular, protesters want $1 billion cut from they say is the police force’s bloated budget and redirected to youth and community programs.
They want the changes enacted in the fiscal year beginning Wednesday.
City Council leaders, including Speaker Corey Johnson, have joined in the call and embraced the Defund the Police movement.
Police leaders, especially the unions, say such cuts would jeopardize public safety.
The mayor sought a middle ground on WNYC.
“I want us to go a lot farther in supporting young organizations," he said. "I gotta make sure that I believe we are leaving the NYPD with the capacity to keep us safe especially as we’re dealing with unfortunately more and more shootings lately.”
The mayor repeatedly noted that he’s a believer in redistribution and has overseen the movement of tens of billions of dollars from city agencies to initiatives that benefit people of color — from universal pre-K to affordable housing.
Occupy City Hall was modeled on the 2011 Occupy Wall Street movement in Zuccotti Park.
De Blasio — who was the city’s public advocate at the time — visited with Occupy Wall Street protesters.
He said he didn't have plans to do the same now outside his office.
“Well, as I said, I’m happy to meet with them, I just think there’s a better way to do it than going into a crowd of 500 people," he said.