I am very disappointed that the Sergeants Benevolent Association placed full-page ads in our daily newspapers that urged the chairperson of a national political party to choose a location other than New York City for the party’s 2016 national convention. My legislative record shows that I am a strong supporter of the men and women in the NYPD and the heroic work they do, which often takes place in very difficult circumstances. Yet I am troubled that this open letter, carrying with it the authority of those who have spent their lives dedicated to law enforcement, ignores important crime statistics, funding trends dating back to the previous administration, and the economic benefits that a convention would bring to New York City.
The letter says that shootings have increased 13% this year, which is certainly a troubling statistic. However, it fails to mention that homicides are down by nearly that exact amount and crime overall is down 3.6% since Mayor de Blasio has taken office.
The letter rightfully notes that the NYPD is understaffed, but it ignores the fact that funding limitations for the NYPD did not start on January 1, 2014. The number of officers on patrol has been going down for a number of years, dating back to the previous administration.
Hosting a national convention would be a tremendous benefit to New York City. The last major political convention to be held in New York, which took place in 2004, added an estimated $255 million to the City’s economy, according to a press release from then-Mayor Bloomberg’s office. Four years ago, the convention created a net positive impact of $163 million for Charlotte, North Carolina, according to Tourism Economics, an economic think tank. There is no question that many New Yorkers stand to benefit if New York hosts the convention in 2016. The letter written by the Sergeants Benevolent Association urges an action that would likely cost the city over a quarter billion dollars.
While the President of the Sergeants Benevolent Association has every right to voice his opinion, he fails to mention more encouraging crime statistics under Mayor de Blasio and to recognize the significant economic benefits that a convention would bring. Urging the national party leaders not to hold a convention in Brooklyn is more than simply an attack on the Mayor’s policies. It is an attack on the entire City. I hope that the 2016 convention is held in Brooklyn. In fact, just as the last day of the 2008 convention was held in Denver’s Mile High Stadium instead of the smaller convention hall, I would also hope that the last day of the 2016 convention would be moved to an arena that can accommodate larger crowds, such as Yankee Stadium. I, for one, would welcome convention-goers to my home borough of the Bronx with open arms.