MIDTOWN — Protecting Trump Tower is taking resources away from police precincts across the city, NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill said Wednesday.
But he is "optimistic" that the city will be fully reimbursed by the federal government for the cost of protecting President-elect Donald Trump, despite a spokesman for Mayor Bill de Blasio getting into a Twitter war with a GOP spokesman over the issue Tuesday night.
"I'm an optimistic person by nature, so I'm pretty sure we're going to be reimbursed for all of the effort that we're putting forth at 56th Street and Fifth Avenue," O'Neill said. "I don't think [the Twitter feud] is going to have any impact on whether or not we're going to get reimbursed."
But O'Neill did not seem to have a contingency plan if the reimbursement doesn't come through, and noted that protecting Trump Tower is taking resources away from precincts in neighborhoods all across the city.
"The plan is that we're going to continue to keep New Yorkers safe whether or not we do get the money," O'Neill said. "We're going to continue to draw resources from around the ciy to bring it in to 56th [Street] to make sure that we continue to keep people safe."
"That's why we need the reimbursement, so we can keep those resources where they belong," he added.
He did not have any update on how reimbursement talks are progressing.
"We're in an ongoing discussion," he said. "I have nothing further than that."
He likened the protection to the "large events" that the NYPD handles regularly, such as New Year's Eve.
"This is what the NYPD does and we do it so well," he said.
The NYPD decided Tuesday to open up one lane of traffic on 56th Street for the first time since Election Day because pedestrian flow has decreased slightly since the holidays are over, Chief of Patrol Terence Monahan said.
"We've been looking at 56th Street since that first day, trying to balance protecting the President-elect and also the businesses in the area," Monahan said. "We've been speaking to the businesses, we wanted to make this opening so that the businesses can stay in business, and we're hoping now that as this goes, it shouldn't be a problem."
The one lane of traffic will be allowed to make a right turn onto Fifth Avenue.
"We have cops there to be able to protect the pedestrians crossing, which is still going to be a large flow, and we're going to monitor it," Monahan said.
Asked if opening the street will save the department any money, O'Neill said he hasn't "made that calculation yet."
He foreshadowed more potential changes to the police activity at that corner.
"As I’ve said from the beginning, day after Election Day, this process is evolving," O'Neill said. "As we continue to get better at this and as we continue to get better at handling the large amount of pedestrians and vehicles that come down Fifth Avenue, we’re going to make improvements."