2009-06-03 / Features

Vallone Voices Concern At Anticipated Police Patrol Cuts

City Councilmember and Public Safety Committee Chair Peter Vallone Jr. (l.) congratulates Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau on his long and successful career. City Councilmember and Public Safety Committee Chair Peter Vallone Jr. (l.) congratulates Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau on his long and successful career. City Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr. warned last week that plans to reduce the number of foot patrol police officers because of the budget crunch could endanger public safety.

The Astoria lawmaker issued the warning last week following a meeting of the council Public Safety Committee, which he chairs.

During the session, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly announced that the NYPD would cut 395 civilian nonpublic safety jobs after July 1 when the 2009-2010 budget would go into effect. Administrative and clerical positions would then be filled by uniformed officers.

"Pulling police officers off the street may temporarily solve a budget gap, but this plan also threatens to erode public safety," Vallone retorted.

Kelly also revealed that a further reduction in police street presence would take place when he announced the police vehicle fleet would be reduced by 15 percent. "The goal of this initiative is to reduce carbon emissions by 30 percent by 2017 and to generate savings toward the fiscal year 2010 budget gap," Kelly explained.

At the committee hearing on the 2010 executive budget, councilmembers also heard testimony from the city's five district attorneys.

Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown testified, "We reduced staffing through attrition and reduced levels of hiring, and in the process we lost many of our experienced mid-level assistants and support staff, many of whom moved on to the private sector and higher salaries simply because we could not keep pace."

The meeting also served as a farewell for Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau who is not seeking re-election and will retire at the end of the year. The other district attorneys and councilmembers took turns commending Morgenthau's great contributions during his lengthy career.

Vallone, who served as an assistant DA under Morgenthau some years ago, commented, "Serving under DA Morgenthau was a great honor and an unparalleled learning experience."—John Toscano

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