RIKERS ISLAND—Mayor Bill de Blasio said Thursday that he is in negotiations with Police Commissioner William Bratton to add more officers but reiterated that he doesn't think an increase in headcount is necessary.
"I am very comfortable that the 35,000 officers that we have are doing a great job right now and that we are finding ways to make them more effective all the time," de Blasio said during a press conference on Rikers Island.
Bratton made a case for increasing police headcount during a raucous CIty Council budget hearing Thursday where a woman was arrested and 25 others expelled from the chambers for yelling through the police commissioner's presentation.
“There is a need for more officers. We’re in discussion with the mayor’s office, the mayor’s office will be in discussion with the City Council as to what the city budget will be able to afford, that’s the purpose of discussion,” Bratton said at the hearing according to the New York Observer.
The Council has backed Bratton's call for 1,000 more officers even as the city's crime rate has dipped to historically low levels.
“Since last year the Council has strongly advocated a higher NYPD headcount and today’s hearing once again validates our position that the police force was simply too small," said Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.
The NYPD has announced a plan to increase community policing efforts with a trial in four precincts in Manhattan and Queens where officers will spend a third of their time developing better neighborhood relationships instead of answering 911 calls.
"True community policing, which improves relations between the NYPD and the communities they serve, requires a higher headcount," added Mark-Viverito.
De Blasio sounded less definitive.
"We've had good conversations," de Blasio said but added that "no decisions have been made yet."
He said Bratton was doing a good job of reengineering the police department and intelligently deploying officers.
"We obviously know the commissioner has an interest in some additional resources but we are going to talk with him about it and come to a decision," said de Blasio.
The mayor said he would be closer to a final decision on more police when his executive budget is ready in late April.