The story in the New York Post reporting that “NYPD suspends counter-terrorism program over proposed funding cuts” is factually inaccurate.
Fact: the Counterterrorism Officers (CTO) Program is not suspended.
Fact: the proposed funding cuts to Homeland Security grant funding would not take place until 2017, and thus, would not effect this program today.
Fact: the CTOs are highly trained officers spread throughout the city and can still be deployed on a moment’s notice by the borough Counterterrorism Inspector or Counterterrorism Bureau as needed.
The designated Homeland Security grant funding that pays for these officers overtime when deployed for special events will run out at the end of March 2016. The money was depleted faster than normally projected because in fiscal year 2015, events like the UN General Assembly, which reached an unprecedented size based on the number of world leaders attending, as well as the trip of Pope Francis at the same time, used a much larger deployment of CTO officers than in previous years. Other events, such as an increase in transit patrols and bag checks, as well as increased deployments at major public events and the NYPD deployments in response to the November 13th Paris attacks, the San Bernardino attacks and the Brussels attacks have been very costly during the fiscal year that ends in July.
The NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Management and Budget, working in collaboration with the Counterterrorism Bureau are examining other funding options within our Homeland Security grant funding that might be transferred to cover the gap. As we work toward that solution, a legitimate counterterrorism need will be filled by calling up CTOs as needed, and if overtime is incurred, if necessary, the NYPD will pay overtime expenses out of non-counterterrorism funding streams until a grant funding solution is reached.
The reporting on this matter by the New York Post fails to acknowledge that in 2016, over 500 uniformed police officers were added to the Counterterrorism Bureau, full time, for assignments across the five boroughs. This Citywide Flying Squad can be broken down to individual units for assignment, modules of multiple units, or large surges of officers to respond as needed.
“I am deeply concerned about reporting that is alarmist, as well as inaccurate, that seems geared to generate fear”, said Police Commissioner William J. Bratton. “New York City has the most robust counterterrorism program of any municipal police agency in the world. We have maintained that and significantly expanded it over the past two years. While we are concerned about the proposed federal funding cuts for 2017, any suggestion that we are diminishing any counterterrorism program in advance of those cuts, is simply wrong”.