Feb. 5, 2021 By Allie Griffin
Astoria City Council candidate Tiffany Cabàn unveiled a detailed plan Wednesday that involves scaling back the NYPD and introducing a number of community-based measures.
Cabán — a 33-year-old former public defender who previously ran for Queens District Attorney — announced that she wants to slash the NYPD budget and reallocate the money into social services.
Her 48-page plan provides a specific roadmap as to how she would reallocate the funds. The funds, she said, would be spent on programs that address mental health, job creation, housing security and legal issues.
Cabán said she would like to see the $6 billion NYPD budget cut by $2 billion to $3 billion — to begin with. However, her end goal is to build a system within the city in which there is no need to fund the police at all.
“My goal at the end of the day is to ultimately get to a place where we are no longer funding police – period,” she told the Queens Post. “That is not going to happen tomorrow, that is not going to happen next year, but it’s important to have that goal in mind — understanding that there is no connection between police and public safety and we have to stop pretending that there is.”
Cabán’s plan calls for the removal of the police when it comes to the handling of a range of low-level crimes and 911 complaints– such as sex work, minor narcotics offenses, traffic incidents, mental health crises and quality of life problems. She also wants the police to no longer be in schools.
Instead, she would create a number of non-policing emergency and crisis response units.
Her plan also addresses public safety as a public health issue and builds on existing models, she said, that have proved to be successful elsewhere.
The plan aims to address the root causes of crime by providing people with housing and job security, substance abuse programs, mental health support and more through community-led initiatives.
Cabán plans to provide people with the resources they need to solve issues within their own community.
The proposal calls for the creation of neighborhood hubs, where individuals can receive familial support; safe consumption services; homeless mitigation programming; immigration legal services; counseling at schools; mental health crisis responders and more.
“It lays out an ecosystem,” Cabán said. “It shows all these solutions and programs in relationship to one another.”
She said the ideas are not “new or novel,” but that they flow from decades of organizing done in large part by Black and brown people. She said she has worked with a number of experts, community-based organizations and activists to craft the plan.
“Everything in this plan, it exists somewhere else,” she said. “So we’re talking about taking things that we know are supported by empirical evidence and scaling them to service our entire city.”
Cabán said her plan would still address violent crime and the uptick in gun violence–despite budget cuts.
She said that officers only spend a fraction of their time dealing with violent crime. She said more resources need to be directed toward preventing crime.
“We know what works better,” Cabán said. “For example, for gun violence — violence interruption programs like Cure Violence and LIFE Camp here in the city reduce gun violence at rates that the police are not able to do.”
The Cure Violence program treats violence as a public health problem. The program has already been introduced to multiple high-crime precincts in New York City.
In June, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a $10 million expansion of the Cure Violence program to bring it to more neighborhoods.
Cabán also said the connection between the rise in gun violence and the current economic crisis caused by the pandemic cannot be ignored.
“We see upticks in violence throughout history whenever there is an economic crisis,” she said. “That goes back to our argument of saying that we have to provide housing, healthcare, education and jobs because that is the best way to keep our communities safe.”
Cabán is running for the District 22 Council seat representing Astoria and parts of Jackson Heights, Woodside and East Elmhurst as well as Rikers Island. The seat is currently filled by Council Member Costa Constantinides, who is term-limited.
Other candidates in the race include Leonardo Bullaro, Edwin DeJesus, Catherina Gioino, Evie Hantzopoulos, Felicia Kalan and Nicholas Velkov, according to the New York City Campaign Finance Board.
Cabán’s full plan, “A New Vision of Public Safety for New York City” can be read online here.