Editorial: Don’t throw more money at the failing NYPD

The NYPD’s response to the Brooklyn subway shooting showed once again that they don’t keep us safe. It’s time to pursue other options.


Manasa Gudavalli

Police stand on East Fifth Street between Second and Third avenues as officers escort Frank James into a police vehicle. (Staff Photo by Manasa Gudavalli)

WSN Editorial Board

Tuesday’s tragic shooting in a Brooklyn subway car stoked anxiety and fear in many New Yorkers who rely on the subway system to travel across the city. After a gunman detonated a smoke grenade and opened fire in an N train in Sunset Park, he remained at large for more than 24 hours after the shooting. New York City’s ubiquitous and well-funded police force failed us — why should we reward them with more funding?

[Read more: Relief in East Village after alleged Brooklyn shooter arrested]

In response to the shooting, Mayor Eric Adams discussed stationing more police officers in the subway system and suggested that metal detectors could be installed in stations. Adams has been increasing the New York City Police Department’s presence in the subways since his term began in January, and his budget for the upcoming fiscal year allots the NYPD $10.9 billion — more than the military budgets of most countries — while making cuts elsewhere.

Yet despite its unfathomable resources, the NYPD was unable to prevent or respond adequately to Tuesday’s shooting. Through its incompetence, the NYPD is making the case against itself.

Any other agency with such serious and persistent shortcomings would face significant consequences. Whenever the NYPD fails, though, the response from politicians like Adams is to “throw more money at it, no questions asked,” as activist Samuel Sinyangwe put it.

The NYPD proved their ineptitude throughout their handling of this attack. An officer on the platform where victims poured out of the train car essentially shrugged his shoulders, telling them to call 911 because his radio was broken. The shooter, wearing a bright orange vest, was somehow able to freely leave the train station. He had enough time to reportedly grab a sandwich at Katz’s Delicatessen and possibly call in a tip on himself before he was finally apprehended in the East Village by a fellow New Yorker, Zack Tahhan. Meanwhile, the NYPD’s Strategic Response Group — which is responsible for mobilizing during events like possible terrorism and mass shootings — was busy harassing people living unhoused by Tompkins Square Park a few blocks east.

It’s time to stop wasting city resources on a police department that doesn’t make New York safer. City government should reallocate funds to services that can actually do their jobs — social services, homeless outreach, alleviating poverty and youth entrepreneurship — and prevent the conditions that lead to crime in the first place.

“Poverty is the root cause to crime,” City Council Member Charles Barron said in a March 30 public safety hearing. “Unemployment is the root cause to crime. I think the most viable thing we can do is CMS,” he said, referring to the city’s Crisis Management System, which de-escalates conflicts and reduces violence in the long-term.

Increasing police funding and presence did not prevent this crime. We can no longer blindly trust the police to prevent crimes like it from happening again. The NYPD routinely fails to protect New Yorkers, and this tragedy is another example of its dangerous incompetence.

The subway shooting should encourage Adams to rethink his approach. More funding and more police presence is not the answer. He should instead fund and platform community-based organizations dedicated to preventing crime by addressing its underlying social and economic factors.

The NYPD does not provide the public safety New Yorkers need. It is not capable of keeping us safe, and giving it more money will do nothing to change this. It’s only realistic to pursue other options.

Opinions expressed in the house editorial reflect the views of the Editorial Board, which is composed of the Opinion Editors, the Deputy Opinion Editors and the Editor-in-Chief. The house editorial does not necessarily represent the opinions of WSN or its staff.

Contact the Editorial Board at [email protected].