NEW YORK (1010 WINS) -- Suffolk County will have to slash its police budget by $20 million if the federal government doesn’t provide disaster assistance to state and local governments ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic, County Executive Steve Bellone said Friday.
At a press conference on Friday, Bellone called on President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to support a plan that will help localities including Suffolk County deal with “massive deficits” caused by COVID-19-related shutdowns.
By failing to take action, the federal government is “effectively defunding the police,” Bellone said.
“They are effectively defunding suburbia, because they have not delivered disaster assistance for state and local governments,” he said. “I have been very clear, very public, the notion of defunding the police, I have not supported. I have said that is the wrong way to go.”
As its finances currently stand, Suffolk County will have to cancel next year’s police class, which would have included 200 officers; freeze promotions that would have bolstered the police department’s supervisory capacity; and cut aid to local law enforcement partners, Bellone said.
Its police department will also have to "effectively suspend" its School Resource Officers program and redeploy its community support officers, he said.
Suffolk County Police Department Commissioner Geraldine Hart, who joined Bellone at the news conference, said the cuts would “have a dangerous and devastating impact on the work that we have done together with our communities to make Suffolk County the safest it has ever been.”
“As we discuss and consider these cuts, it’s important to remember these are not merely numbers that we move around on a ledger,” she said. “Rather, they are specifically trained law enforcement professionals who have dedicated their lives to protecting our residents and positively impacting the people that they deal with.”
Bellone emphasized that his plea for funding had “nothing to do with partisanship.”
“My message to Washington is simple: Don’t defund the police. Don’t defund suburbia by your inaction,” he said. “Mr. President, we need your help. Join with our Congressional delegation, Republicans and Democrats alike, to make sure state and local governments have the funding they need to continue to fight through this pandemic.”