Putting cops on streets is the most effective way to combat crime. That is why I am calling on the NYPD to redouble its efforts to civilianize the force -- that is, reassign uniformed officers from clerical and administrative duties to patrol our streets and neighborhoods.
Over the past twenty-five years, since the inception of the "Safe Streets, Safe City" initiative under Mayor David Dinkins, New York City has experienced a reduction in crime. This is directly linked to the increase in the number of uniformed police officers on City streets.
In the past decade, however, the number of uniformed police officers has remained more or less flat.
Without a doubt, the most fiscally responsible way to increase the number of officers on our streets is to mobilize uniformed officers in administrative jobs and to use civilian employees to fill those jobs.
There are a significant number of NYPD jobs currently held by uniformed police officers that can be performed by civilians.
City Council noted in its recent Fiscal Year 2015 budget response to Mayor de Blasio that approximately 731 full duty uniformed officers perform civilian functions in administrative and patrol commands.
In addition to improving safety, civilianization saves money. With fewer officers on the beat, NYPD must rely more on overtime to satisfy public safety needs.
As a result, the City spends more on overtime because we do not utilize all of our uniformed officers in the field. City Council estimates that NYPD spending on overtime has increased 41 percent over the past five years.
Thanks to the leadership of Councilwoman Vanessa Gibson, chair of the council Public Safety Committee, this issue is gaining traction in the City Council.
Civilianization also saves money because on average civilian employees make less than their uniformed counterparts. Recent estimates by the Council indicate that the City could save up to $35 million per year by moving 500 officers and replacing them with civilians.
Our new police commissioner knows this lesson well. When Commissioner Bratton was the commissioner of the Los Angeles Police Department, he sought to civilianize the LAPD in order to overcome budget shortfalls.
In 2006, he touted the costs savings of a civilianization effort in LA and one of the commissioner's deputies stated that civilianizing saved the City of Los Angeles roughly 20 percent in salary and benefits and enabled more uniformed officers to serve for duty.
Putting the clear financial merits aside, we must not lose sight of the most important reason to further civilianize the NYPD. More cops on our streets and in our neighborhoods mean safer streets and neighborhoods.