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There’s cutting the budget, then there’s putting peoples lives in danger.
The latter would happen if Mayor Michael Bloomberg goes through with his plan to cancel the January 2009 Police Academy class, area officials said this week.
“He’s playing a dangerous game,” Bay Ridge City Councilmember Vincent Gentile told members of the 62nd Precinct Community Council recently. “He’s putting our safety in jeopardy to cut the budget.”
Gentile said that he and other Council members will be pushing to get the academy class reinstated during upcoming budget negotiations.
Earlier this month, the Mayor announced that they planned to cancel the class, which would save the city $36 million.
The Mayor plans to use the money to fill the $4 billion hole the city is facing in the 2009-2010 fiscal year.
He would be the first Mayor in recent history to cancel an entire academy class, which was planned to turn out 1,100 new cops by the summer. Other mayors facing tough economic times delayed the class for a few months, but never outright cancelled it.
Gentile said that cutting the next class would seriously impair the New York City Police Department’s progress in fighting crime.
“We will see the lowest level of personnel in our precinct since I’ve been in office, and I’ve been in office since 1997,” he said. “The police have done a good and commendable job, but they need bodies.”
“If people start feeling unsafe on the streets, then tourism goes down. If that happens, then the city ends up loosing money, not saving it,” he said.
Bensonhurst City Councilmember Domenic Recchia agreed, adding that one should never cut an academy class during a fiscal recession.
“When people lose their jobs, they get crazy and desperate,” he said. “They may be forced to do things that they never thought they would have to do. We need cops more than ever.”
Fort Greene City Councilwoman Letitia James said that she was “adamantly opposed” to the cancellation of the NYPD academy class, as well the closure of dental clinics daycare centers.
“I believe we can stave off the cuts until next year, when we could get some relief from the Obama administration,” she said. “In all likelihood the economy could get better.”
Speaking to members of the Bergen Beach Civic Association, City Councilmember Lew Fidler said that the Mayor’s plan to cancel the 2009 class was “outrageous.”
“You do not preserve the economic vitality of this city by stepping back on public safety,” he explained. “These rookie cops are needed to re-invigorate our police force.”
As he and his council colleagues fight for the reinstatement of the 2009 academy class, Fidler encouraged residents to voice their opinion on the subject by calling 311.
Calls to the Mayor’s office for comment on the cancellation of the class were not returned by press time.
©2008 Community Newspaper Group
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