Cops 'spread thin' as anti-Israel agitators, high-profile Trump trial exhaust NYPD: expert


New York City has become the epicenter of campus protests at the hands of radicals denouncing Israel and Jews worldwide, forcing the NYPD to juggle yet another public safety concern and hundreds of arrests, in addition to ongoing crime trends, the immigration crisis, police understaffing and even security surrounding the unprecedented trial of former President Trump in Manhattan. 

“We believe that they, too, should contribute to the cost,” Democratic Mayor Eric Adams said last week when asked if Columbia University should foot the bill for a recent massive NYPD operation to remove radicals from campus. 

“One way to prevent the costs from escalating is to have a zero tolerance. As soon as the tents go up, it comes down. Do not allow this to continue to expand,” Adams continued. “That is what we saw at Columbia University and that is what we saw at CUNY as well.”

“[I]f this summer turns out to be a very hot summer on the crime front, I mean, that can be particularly disastrous at a time in which the department is spread as thin as it is.” 

Just last month, anti-Israel protests on Columbia University’s campus spiraled, with students and outside agitators seen on camera with a poster outlining that Jewish students on campus would become Al-Qasam’s “next targets,” referring to terrorist organization Hamas’s military wing. That same weekend, a rabbi at Columbia warned Jewish students to leave campus immediately until the situation was quelled. 

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NYPD officers lined against building at Columbia University

NYPD officers line up outside Columbia University, Monday, April 29, 2024. (Rashid Umar Abbasi for Fox News Digital)

“The events of the last few days, especially last night, have made it clear that Columbia University’s Public Safety and the NYPD cannot guarantee Jewish students’ safety in the face of extreme antisemitism and anarchy,” Rabbi Elie Buechler wrote. It deeply pains me to say that I would strongly recommend you return home as soon as possible and remain home until the reality in and around campus has dramatically improved.

The situation did not dramatically improve. Instead, an encampment on campus dubbed the “Gaza Solidarity Encampment” grew and radicals overtook a building on campus, Hamilton Hall. The encampment and occupation of Hamilton Hall only ended when the NYPD stormed the campus, clearing the encampment and removing throngs of agitators from the building. 

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Between Columbia’s and The City College of New York’s campuses last week, police arrested 282 people and worked to dismantle illegal encampments. The NYPD revealed half of those arrested were outside agitators not affiliated with the universities

anti-Israel agitator waves Palestinian flag atop building

A pro-Palestinian demonstrator holds a flag on the rooftop of Hamilton Hall at Columbia University in New York City on Tuesday, April 30, 2024. Pro-Palestinian student demonstrators barricaded themselves in the Hamilton Hall building at Columbia on Tuesday after the school began suspending students who defied an order to clear their encampment. (Yuki Iwamura/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Manhattan Institute fellow Rafael Mangual told Fox News Digital in a phone interview this month that the NYPD is spread thin as it juggles safety concerns revolving around the protests, in addition to a handful of other public safety issues in the city. 

“The department being spread as thin as it is, is really going to constrain its ability to respond to any kind of major shift,” Mangual said. “Again, we’re hoping … that the beginning of this trend of a crime decline continues. But if this summer turns out to be a very hot summer on the crime front, I mean, that can be particularly disastrous at a time in which the department is spread as thin as it is.” 

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Adams has praised the police for their strong showing and ability to shut down the protests, while denouncing the agitators on campus disrupting the city. 

“They are attempting to disrupt our city, and we are not going to permit it to happen,” Adams said last week. “And we’re proud to say they have been removed from the campus. The NYPD is precision policing ensured that the operation was organized, calm, and that there were no injuries or violent clashes.”

Palestinian flag in midst of anti-Israel agitators at Columbia University

Anti-Israel students lock arms, sing and chant as they braced for New York Police Department officers to raid campus after Columbia University President Minouche Shafik called on the NYPD to dismantle encampments and remove individuals from Hamilton Hall on Tuesday, April 30, 2024 in New York. (Seyma Bayram via AP)

The protests come after the NYPD saw historical losses of staffers leaving the force or retiring in recent years. In 2022, roughly 3,700 officers retired or quit — the largest figure recorded in the last 20 years, Fox News Digital previously reported. 

Police leaving the NYPD has been an issue stretching back decades, with Mangual explaining that staffing levels sat around 40,000 members in the early 2000s, before falling to under 34,000. 

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“I think there’s no question that resources are getting strained. The NYPD is certainly a beneficiary of its very, very high levels of staffing. But it’s also important to remember that that high level of staffing has been pretty steadily decreasing for two decades now. I mean, I think of the year 2000, the department had about 40,000 officers, close to 41,000 at one point in the early aughts, and they’re down to about 33,500,” he said. 

The staffing issue woes are illustrated by how response times for calls of service have increased in recent years, along with the number of actual calls for service skyrocketing, Mangual reported in a New York Post opinion piece in March. 

Mangual compared NYPD response times in January 2018 to December 2023, finding response times for critical calls increased by 22% in December, “serious” calls for service response times increased by 45.5% and non-critical calls by 28.7%, sitting around 27 minutes or more for officers to respond. 

cops in riot gear arrive at Columbia University

Police officers part of the Strategic Response Team standby during protests at Columbia University on April 22, 2024 in New York City. (David Dee Delgado/Getty Images)

The NYPD also fielded a whopping 1 million more calls for service in 2022 compared to pre-pandemic 2018, Mangual found. 

“The NYPD fielded a million more calls for service in 2018,” Mangual told Fox News Digital. “Most police departments, you know, are fielding maybe 100,000 calls for service ready at a midsized Police Department in an American city. The NYPD is like the LAPD, it’s a mega department. So you’re talking about 7 million calls for service a year.”

“That’s an enormous amount. And … that growth in calls for services is coming at a time in which the number of officers on the street has been declining. And it’s important to understand, too, that that 33,500 number includes all uniformed members of service, not all of whom are patrol officers who are going to be responding to these calls.”

Palestinian flag paraded outside Hamilton Hall at Columbia University

A student protester parades a Palestinian flag outside the entrance to Hamilton Hall on the campus of Columbia University on Tuesday, April 30, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, Pool)

New York City was among cities across the nation following 2020 that saw crimes increase, including murders increasing by nearly 47% in 2020 compared to 2019, burglaries increased by 43% that year, and grand larceny of vehicles by 66%. 

Violent crimes such as murder have since fallen in the city, which Mangual celebrated, but noted that crime overall only ticked down 0.3% last year compared to 2022. 

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“Lots of people are sort of hyper focused on the homicide decline, the shooting decline” he told Fox News Digital. “And they should be, you know, those are important developments for sure. You know, I don’t want to deemphasize that at all because I do think that that’s an important sign of improvement. But if you look in 2023, for example, the year-end crime data for New York City showed that overall major crime, which are the seven major offenses that the NYPD tracks, was only down 0.3%. Despite those really sharp declines in homicides and shootings, and that’s because car thefts, larcenies, burglaries, robberies, and non-shooting assaults are still very, very elevated.”

anti-Israel protest outside at Columbia University

An anti-Israel rally is held at the steps of Lowe Library on the grounds of Columbia University on April 22, 2024 in New York City. (David Dee Delgado/Getty Images)

Israel activist, New Yorker Lizzy Savetsky, told Fox News Digital that protests and radicals on campuses are challenging “the fabric of our public safety” while promoting antisemitism and hate of the U.S.

“These antisemitic, pro-Hamas encampments on campuses across New York City are directly targeting the Jewish community and are anti-American. The NYPD’s stretched resources are a testament to the disruptive nature of these mob encampments, which not only challenge the fabric of our public safety but also embolden antisemitic and anti-American sentiments. It’s unacceptable that our city’s security and the well-being of its Jewish residents are being compromised by such targeted hate,” Savetsky said. 

Simultaneous with the city’s crime trends and protests, the Big Apple is also grappling with a migrant crisis, as illegal immigrants have continuously flooded the nation under the Biden administration, as border states such as Texas bused the migrants to left-wing cities with “sanctuary” status. 

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More than 180,000 migrants have arrived in New York City since 2022, while roughly 7.3 million illegal immigrants have entered the U.S. since President Biden took office in 2021, Fox News Digital reported in February. The total number of migrants in the nation outpaces the population of 36 individual states. 

Migrants in NYC bus terminal

Recently arrived migrants are pictured in the processing area at Port Authority Bus Terminal in Midtown Manhattan. (Luiz C. Ribeiro for NY Daily News via Getty Images)

The city is also juggling security surrounding the high-profile and unprecedented trial of former President Trump in Manhattan, where he faces 34 felony charges of falsifying business records. Trump has pleaded not guilty to the charges and slammed the case as a “scam” promoted by the Biden administration ahead of the 2024 election

“They’re very spread thin. And so, I think the real vulnerability is … we won’t be able to be very nimble, should something big happen.”

The trial has resulted in mass media attention, while supporters and protesters have also gathered outside the courthouse. During the first week of the trial last month, a man set himself on fire outside the trial. He succumbed to his injuries shortly after. 

Donald Trump in Manhattan courtroom

Republican presidential candidate, former President Trump, sits in the courtroom as his criminal trial over charges that he falsified business records to conceal money paid to silence porn star Stormy Daniels in 2016 continues, at Manhattan state court in New York City on April 22, 2024. (REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/Pool)

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“So not only do we have these more regular instances of protests, which demand a large police presence,” Mangual said. “We’ve had bridges shut down, the tunnel shut down, mass gatherings at Penn Station and Grand Central Station, the campuses,” Mangual continued. “But you also have these very, very high security events like Trump’s trial, the UN every year. So they’re all these things that are sort of consistently happening that are further constraining the NYPD’s ability to respond for to calls for service, and those calls for service have been growing.”

Anti-Israel protesters outside Columbia University

Anti-Israel protesters continue to rally outside of Columbia University in New York City on Tuesday, April 30, 2024. (Rashid Umar Abbasi for Fox News Digital)

Mangual warned that though the NYPD can handle the events currently unfolding in the city, the Big Apple would be left vulnerable if a mass tragedy strikes or if riots similar to those in 2020 broke out. 

“They’re very spread thin. And so, I think the real vulnerability is … we won’t be able to be very nimble, should something big happen. Should there be another series of riots like in 2020. Should there be, God forbid, a terrorist attack,” he said. 

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The mayor’s office told Fox News Digital on Sunday that the NYPD has made clear they can handle the situations on campus, while still attending to the entire city’s needs without issue, which the office noted makes the force “the greatest police department in the world.” 



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