In Astoria, police commissioner says ‘there’s a good chance’ city will be reimbursed for Trump’s security

Photo by Angela Matua

Police Commissioner James O’Neill attended an Astoria Civic Association meeting on Tuesday night, Dec. 6, where he answered questions from Queens residents, including one about the heavy and expensive police presence at Trump Tower.

“Are we going to get that extra money now from the Trump Administration?” one Queens resident asked.

“The $35 million?” O’Neill responded to laughs from the crowd. “Is that what you’re talking about?”

The commissioner said it costs the city approximately $560,000 a day to provide security for Trump’s family during the transition and that more than 300 cops and 100 traffic agents patrol the area daily.

“There’s precedent,” he said. “We’re in good discussion with Washington, so I’m pretty optimistic that we’re getting that money back.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio formally asked the federal government on Monday to reimburse the city for providing security. It is estimated to cost approximately $35 million from the day of the presidential election to Inauguration Day.

Congressional Republicans introduced a stopgap spending bill on Tuesday that only allocates $7 million for the NYPD’s overtime work to provide security, the New York Post reported.

“NYC taxpayers shouldn’t be on the hook for 80% of the national bill to protect Trump Tower,” de Blasio tweeted. “DC must step up to pay us back what we’re owed.”

Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito also said that the city “cannot single-handedly shoulder the staggering cost of protecting the President-elect and his family.”

“The President-elect and Congress must commit to repaying the NYPD, the tax payers and our city,” she said. “We will not accept anything else.”

O’Neill also updated residents on shooting and homicide statistics for the year. The city is on track to have less than 1,000 shootings this year and 335 homicides. Though he said those numbers are still high, he compared them to the 4,000 shootings and about 700 homicides in Chicago.

“You may not think that the city is a safe place but it’s never been safer,” he said.

According to O’Neill, the first 1,000 body cameras will be distributed to officers in spring 2017. The NYPD is working with federal monitors to figure out the right policy in terms of when to turn the cameras on and off, he said.

“I can’t wait to get the cameras out,” he said. “You know, when I first heard about the body cameras, being a cop for such a long time, I had to think twice about it. In the long run it’s going to be very helpful. It’s going to let people walk in our shoes and see what we see every day.”

He also praised the Neighborhood Coordination Officers (NCO) program for building a stronger relationship between officers and communities. Attendees said they would like to see the program in more precincts in Queens, including the 108th Precinct, which covers Long Island City, Woodside and Sunnyside.

The program will be expanding to additional precincts next year but O’Neill said the NYPD needs more officers to bring it to every precinct. Mayor Bill de Blasio announced last year that 1,300 more officers would be added to the department and that they would help to expand community policing.

“The NCOs, their primary job is to make sure that there’s that connection between the community and the sector cops so everybody gets a chance to make those connections and to make life better and to continue to push crime down because we’re certainly not done.”

More from Around New York