Bomb robots, bomb suits, explosive-sniffing dogs, tactical shooter training, and surveillance cameras. Those are just some of the critical counterterrorism tools that New York City, the No. 1 terror target in the U.S., could lose in the Trump administration’s proposed federal budget cuts. And the irony isn’t lost on New York taxpayers, who’ve been hit hard keeping the president’s family and Manhattan property safe.
NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill blasted Trump’s proposed cuts, part of broader cuts to the Department of Homeland Security, at a press conference Thursday, saying the budget would slash $110 million from the city’s counterterrorism program and leave New York vulnerable. According to the New York City Council, the NYPD received more than $237 million in grants for its counterterrorism operations in 2016. Trump’s proposed budget would essentially cut that in half.
“Under the president’s proposal, nearly all federal funding to the NYPD would be eradicated,” O’Neill said. “This funding is absolutely critical. It is the backbone of our entire counterterrorism apparatus.”
“New York City remains one of the top terror targets in the world, and certainly the top target in the United States,” O’Neill said. “The federal government has long acknowledged that fact, and to cut that funding would make us increasingly less safe.”
In a New York Daily News op-ed published late Thursday night, O’Neill doubled down on his harsh criticism of the proposed cuts, noting that New York had been the target of 21 terror plots since the 9/11 attacks in 2001.
The cuts are particularly infuriating considering how much New Yorkers pay to keep Trump and family safe in Trump Tower.
New York taxpayers have been footing the bill for round-the-clock security at Trump Tower, the so-called “White House North,” where first lady Melania Trump and son Barron continue to reside, reportedly until Barron finishes this school year. O’Neill pointed out that city taxpayers are shelling out $100,000 a day to protect his Manhattan property and family. That cost, O’Neill says, triples whenever Trump visits. Last month, O’Neill said that security for Trump Tower during the transition period cost New Yorkers an estimated $24 million, in part due to the fact that the then-president-elect chose to spend the majority of time in his hometown rather than in Washington, D.C. Since taking office in January, Trump has spent 45 out of 56 nights in Washington. By next week, Trump will have spent five weekends since Jan. 20 at his “Winter White House” in Palm Beach, Florida.
“So far we have only received $7 million back,” O’Neill wrote. “If that is a signal, it is a bad one for New Yorkers.”