Having already slashed the budget for the NYPD, the City Council in the Big Apple is looking to enact even more restrictions on the actions of the police department. Multiple members of the Council have drafted a bill that would bar the police from any interaction with homeless individuals on the streets. That would include both responding to complaints about possible criminal behavior and outreach efforts where officers attempt to get the homeless into shelters. To say this is going too far is an understatement. Even the notoriously liberal Mayor is opposed to the measure. (NY Post)
The NYPD would be prohibited from conducting any outreach to New York’s homeless under a new bill before the City Council, handcuffing cops from protecting municipal workers on the frontlines of the crisis — a move opposed by police unions and Mayor Bill de Blasio.
“Experiencing homelessness on the street or on the subway is not a crime,” insisted Councilman Stephen Levin (D-Brooklyn) during a Monday hearing of the council’s general welfare committee. “I hope that this bill will ensure that there is less harm done by limiting the involvement of police in these interactions.”
Levin, who reps areas including Downtown Brooklyn and Williamsburg, is co-sponsoring the bill along with Councilwoman Helen Rosenthal, a Democrat representing Manhattan’s Upper West Side.
The insinuation in this bill is obvious. The liberals on the Council who have been pushing to defund, if not entirely abolish the police are suggesting that the cops can’t be trusted to deal with the homeless or are somehow looking to abuse them. This flies in the face of the reality on the streets, where the city’s Department of Homeless Services has routinely partnered with the NYPD and relied on them to provide officers to accompany workers when engaging the homeless. This is done not only to ensure that help is provided to the homeless but to protect the workers in case any of the people they are trying to help become violent, as often happens when they are engaging with people having mental health issues.
The situation was already deteriorating over the summer. When the defund the police movement succeeded in getting a billion dollars slashed from the police budget, the cuts included the elimination of the entire budget for the NYPD’s Homeless Outreach Unit. That department had to do the lion’s share of the work in assisting the Department of Homeless Services. Once it was eliminated, officers had to be pulled off the beat to respond to those situations, some of them not having all of the training provided to members of the outreach unit.
The results of those changes came quickly. June was the last month that the outreach unit was in operation and they handled 79 cases of calls involving homeless individuals either in need of aid or causing trouble. In July, with the unit having been disbanded, the number of calls shot up to more than 300. The City Council responded by chastising the Department of Homeless Services for not responding quickly enough, despite having canceled one of their primary resources.
But between July and now, at least there were some cops available to help. If this new bill is passed into law, the police will be forbidden to intercede even if there are trained officers available. All of this is taking place just as the city braces for what is predicted to be the first major snowstorm of the season. So if you happen to be in Gotham this winter and either see a homeless person who looks like they are in need of shelter or one who is harassing you or other pedestrians, don’t bother calling the cops. If this measure becomes law, they’re not going to respond.