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Commissioner Shea Calls Protesters "Spoiled Brats" As NYPD Overtime Explodes

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A protester under arrest is led by a NYPD Police Officer during an Abolish ICE protest in Times Square on September 19. Ron Adar/SOPA Images/Shutterstock

This past weekend, Jonathan Price, 31, was fatally shot by a police officer outside an East Texas convenience store as he attempted to break up a fight, according to witnesses. Price, a Black man from Wolfe City, Texas, was unarmed when he was killed. The officer who allegedly fired the fatal shots, Shaun Lucas, was arrested, charged with murder, and set free on $1 million bond.

Late Monday night, New Yorkers took to the streets of Lower Manhattan to protest Price's death, and the NYPD made 24 arrests, according to the Post. In an interview with NY1 on Tuesday morning, NYPD Commissioner Shea accused the protesters of "breaking windows, property damage, graffiti, lighting fires."

"And that’s last night in New York City — 24 more arrests, you know, at a time when we have diminished resources, and we have a violent uptick with the courts and everything else going on," Shea said. "We don’t need officers pulled away for these, sometimes I don’t know what you call them — peaceful protesters — maybe spoiled brats at this point."

Shea didn't say what the protesters were charged with; the only charge listed in the Post's story is "obstructing governmental administration." The NYPD's press office hasn't answered our questions about the arrests.

The commissioner is correct to say that the NYPD's policing tactics are eating up resources. According to the Independent Budget Office, the NYPD has spent $85.6 million in overtime for uniformed officers over the first three months of the fiscal year, putting the department on track to exceed its planned overtime budget by $116 million.

According to the IBO's preliminary figures, the NYPD spent $13.8 million on OT in July, $43.7 million in August, and $28 million in September. The agency previously predicted that the NYPD will miss their OT target by $400 million. The increases in overtime come as the pandemic has canceled all major sporting events and large outdoor gatherings that normally require sizeable police details, and weeks before Election Day.

After weeks of massive protests against racist police violence and civil unrest, the City Council and the Mayor's Office agreed in late June to reallocate $1 billion of the NYPD's budget. Part of that figure came from cutting the NYPD's overtime budget by $335 million, from $603 million to $268 million (though in reality, the NYPD spent $823 million on OT in the last fiscal year, and the department has averaged $723 million in overtime in recent years).

“What we’re talking about is the kind of overtime that is normally relied upon," Mayor Bill de Blasio said in June, explaining the cuts. "The NYPD is particularly well-managed today. It has gotten better with every decade and every year and Commissioner Shea is a very smart data-driven modern manager."

At the time, Commissioner Shea called the elected officials who supported the cuts "cowards."

"We have a lot of resources. It's going to get worse with the resources, we're not there yet, well maybe we're starting to, with the overtime," Shea told his commanders at a meeting in July. "But we still have the cops, we still have the resources. Short term, we're OK, longer term we're gonna have to fight to get our cops back."

Throughout the past month, the NYPD has used an overwhelming amount of force to police what in many cases are small protests: bloodying a group of a few dozen anti-ICE demonstrators in Lower Manhattan, charging into an outdoor restaurant in the West Village to apprehend a handful of protesters for stepping into the street, breaking up a small outdoor concert in Park Slope while chasing a group of protesters who had left the scene long before cops showed up.

The NYPD has justified their actions by stating that the protests have blocked traffic.

The Mayor's Office did not respond to our questions.

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