The New York Police Department is adding 900 officers in the coming months after previously delaying, or canceling, recruitment classes amid budget conflicts and issues related to the novel coronavirus pandemic, officials recently announced.
The NYPD, said to be the largest police force in the nation, announced Monday it would begin bringing on new personnel in a recruitment class set to begin Dec. 29 and “on a rolling basis through February.” The news comes just over a week after the department announced it was combatting shooting numbers that had risen to “levels unseen in years.”
The department has faced high retirement numbers over the past several months, as police morale declined and anti-police rhetoric surged in the wake of several high-profile police-involved deaths or shootings.
“The establishment of this new class is welcome news as these officers will begin the 2021 calendar year by continuing the Department’s mission to engage with the community while zeroing in on the drivers of crime,” said Police Commissioner Dermot Shea in an emailed press release. “Once they graduate, every single one of these officers will play a critical role in neighborhood policing and ensuring residents in all five boroughs experience the level of public safety they deserve.”
In July, New York City lawmakers approved a budget that shifted $1 billion from policing to education and social services in the coming year. Under the approved budget, cuts would come from canceling a nearly 1,200-person police recruiting class set for that month, as well as halving overtime spending, redeploying officers from administrative functions to patrol, and ending police responsibility for school crossing guards and homeless outreach.
The police department also would give up control over public school security, which the NYPD took over from the Department of Education in 1998.
Other cuts are being made to the NYPD’s capital budget, including canceling plans to build a new police precinct in Queens and instead, using the money to build a community center.
The NYPD budget is now around $6 billion, plus several billion dollars more in shared city expenses such as pensions.
Shea announced in October the addition of another 900 officers for the NYPD’s 2020 November Academy class. He said at the time that the 900 officers would bring the department’s uniform headcount to 35,100 – down from the 36,900 uniformed personnel at the same time in 2019.
In the October announcement, he attributed to loss to “budget cuts as well as attrition.”
According to the New York Post, the NYPD had 34,184 uniformed cops as of Monday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.