New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has redirected $60 million that originally was intended to supply police in high crime areas with special protective vests, body cameras and other equipment.
$150 million of an overall budget for law enforcement was used to pay for other expenses including : $40 million for state police counterterrorism patrols, $50 million for new snow plows and other equipment, $23 million to pay for the manhunt for two murderers who escaped from an upstate NY prison and $6 million to pay costs from a 2014 snow storm in Buffalo.
The money came from legal settlements obtained by the state that Cuomo and lawmakers had agreed to use for public safety and emergency response initiatives, according to the NY Daily News.
Officials in Cuomo’s administration defended the move, saying the funding for police vests and cameras “was always contingent on lawmakers passing a larger package of criminal justice reforms proposed by the governor.”
When the larger package failed to pass through the Legislature, the governor re-directed the money. Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi said, “They never passed the bill and hopefully they remember to pass it this year.”
“So because we couldn’t agree on x, y or z then does that mean police aren’t worthy of protection, even though his very words said they were a priority?” said one legislative source. “Bottom line — everyone understood that the money was to be used for the policy priorities he outlined.”
The governor first mentioned using state funds for body cams and vests in January 2015 when he made public a package of criminal justice reforms– in response to the Eric Garner case and “other police related controversies.”
Azzopardi also pointed out to the Daily News that the state handed out “more than $27 million in grants to law enforcement agencies last year for equipment and Cuomo’s proposed 2016-17 budget includes $4 million for police body armor purchases.”