New Yorker Opines ‘Bloated’ Police Budgets Don’t Provide Safety


By Cindy Chen

NEW YORK, NY – A New Yorker shared—in an opinion piece in the City Limits weekly in New York—a troubling encounter in 2021 she claims changed her life when she found herself unjustly detained by law enforcement.

Prompted by a neighbor’s report of a familial altercation, Cheyenne Lee writes in City Limits that officers forcibly entered their residence without a warrant with tasers drawn, and conducted an unauthorized search, forcibly restraining Lee’s nephew. Lee was also placed under arrest.

The officers allegedly lied in the documents for prosecution due to the lack of reasoning for the arrest, said Lee, noting, “I felt like I was being kidnapped by the police. They left me in a cell in the precinct overnight, and I was detained for nearly two days before I was released.”

In City Limits, Lee recounts after five months of being prosecuted, a judge finally dismissed the case.

Afterwards, Lee said she sought a lawsuit against the municipality and the nine officers. While the city recently agreed to compensate Lee with $125,000, the officers faced no discernible consequences, neither contributing to the settlement nor facing termination or disciplinary measures.

This case is not an isolated incident, writes Lee in City Limits, noting recent reports for 2023, where “the city paid over $114 million in wrongful arrest lawsuits like mine. In fact, since 2018, the NYPD’s misconduct has cost taxpayers more than half a billion dollars. These payments coincide with historic increases in lawsuits, which shows that what is happening here is an NYPD run amok.”

Lee, in her City Limits opinion piece, claims proactive prevention is equally important, stating, “The city should absolutely compensate New Yorkers when their rights are violated. But the city should also prevent these lawsuits from happening in the first place by holding the NYPD sufficiently accountable for its law-breaking, retaliation, and aggression.”

At the heart of the issue, claims Lee, lies the NYPD’s budget, projected at $10.8 billion for 2024, comprising 10 percent of the city’s overall budget.

“This bloated budget, which makes up 10 percent of the city’s overall budget, allows officers to engage in wasteful, illegal behavior: over-responding to 911 calls, entering people’s homes without a warrant and without consent, arresting people for trumped up charges, and lying on police reports,” Lee contends in City Limits.

Without these budget repercussions, Lee said, the NYPD will “continue to pay officers’ salaries and pay out large settlements, while simultaneously demanding more taxpayer money from the city.”

The NYPD, Lee maintains, claims that its $10.8 billion budget is indispensable for ensuring public safety. However, it overlooks the question of why the department should be financially rewarded despite numerous instances of officers falsifying police reports—a clear legal infraction—without facing repercussions.

“Such financial and legal mismanagement would never be accepted in a private corporation, and we should not accept it from the NYPD,” Lee asserts in City Limits.

In her closing statement in City Limits, Lee advocates for increased police accountability, insisting, “New Yorkers deserve to live in a safe and healthy city, where the police do their jobs according to the law.

“Instead, we have an inflated police budget and officers who trample on our rights without any accountability, leaving us less safe and with worse schools, crumbling infrastructure, and less money for services that improve all our lives. The City Council must have the courage to use the budget to hold the NYPD accountable. Otherwise, this pattern of abuse and intergenerational trauma will continue.”

About The Author

The Vanguard Court Watch operates in Yolo, Sacramento and Sacramento Counties with a mission to monitor and report on court cases. Anyone interested in interning at the Courthouse or volunteering to monitor cases should contact the Vanguard at info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org - please email info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org if you find inaccuracies in this report.

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