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Ocasio-Cortez: NYC’s New Police Contract Makes Cops Rich by Defunding Schools

The lawmaker said that crime can actually be reduced by funding public programs that support communities.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez speaks during a news conference outside the U.S. Capitol on January 26, 2023 in Washington, D.C.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) is speaking out against the New York City Police Department’s (NYPD) latest contract, which would push many cops to top income brackets as the city is in the process of defunding crucial public goods like education and health care.

This week, Ocasio-Cortez brought the “The Daily Show” to Jacobi Hospital in the Bronx to promote a program that reduces gun violence through public health interventions rather than policing, which has failed to prevent the U.S.’s recent increase in gun violence. She noted that police funding is currently being prioritized over nearly every program serving the needs of the public — a point that right-wing outlets like Fox News and The New York Post have pushed back against in their endless quest to further empower the U.S. police state.

Ocasio-Cortez shot back against the criticism on Twitter on Wednesday. “What they aren’t telling you is that under the new NYC contract, many rank and file officers will now be in the top 10 percent of income earners in the U.S. The catch? It’s being paid for with devastating budget cuts to public schools, libraries, affordable housing, healthcare, and more,” she said.

The lawmaker cited an article by The Indypendent finding that, under the new $5.5 billion contract between the NYPD and New York City Mayor Eric Adams, police with five and a half years in their positions will receive a base salary of $130,000, or a pay raise of about 50 percent. This means that many police will be making upwards of $200,000 with overtime pay — which NYPD officers have bragged about “milking” — placing them firmly in the top 10 percent of earners in the U.S.

These massive raises for police officers come as Adams is slashing millions of dollars from public schools, libraries, and more, bringing layoffs and major austerity measures to public goods in what he claims are measures for “fiscal discipline.”

Ocasio-Cortez went on to say that conservatives frame any funding of public goods as left-wing extremism — and that, despite their fear mongering about crime, they repeatedly push measures, like increased policing, that would leave communities less safe.

“[I]f you question this logic and believe defunding schools, libraries, & housing drives crime, you’re labeled an ‘extremist’ or ‘far-left.’ It shouldn’t be considered ‘extreme’ to prioritize funding schools, healthcare, housing, libraries,” she said. “But perhaps in today’s world, it is.”

Indeed, research has shown that funding schools and increasing state welfare programs decreases crime and increases public safety. The program at Jacobi Hospital, led in part by Ocasio-Cortez, is one example of the efficacy of community alternatives to policing; in a study published earlier this year, researchers found that sending social workers and community members to intervene when gunshot victims are brought into the emergency room decreased gun violence in the community by 59 percent over the past nine years of the program’s implementation.

Meanwhile, police often actively endanger the communities that they are supposed to protect. Research has found that police commit a significant proportion of homicides across the country — and, as lawmakers have funneled money to police in the backlash to the protests against police brutality in 2020, police killings have hit a record high.

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