On paper, yesterday’s police budget hearing should have been a routine affair: commissioner Ray Kelly outlines the department’s yearly budget to City Council, and council members have a chance to react and ask questions. Several members, however, seized the opportunity to lob thinly masked and totally open critiques of NYPD tactics at the department boss.

“How much will the N.Y.P.D. save,” asked Democratic Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez pointedly, “If, instead of having police officers take the time to do a stop and frisk of innocent people, we direct those police officers to go after, like, the real criminals?”

Longtime Bronx Councilwoman Helen Foster took the opportunity to speak about an incident in which an officer cursed at her as she was trying to park her car, and Jumaane Williams leveled complaints about Kelly’s lack of public presence in Williams’s district in the wake of the Kimani Gray shooting in East Flatbush.

“All you want to do is belittle the problem,” Williams said, adding, “I’m willing to cancel the rest of my afternoon and have you come to the community and walk with me and talk to some of the people.”

“I go to the community meetings all the time,” Kelly bit back. “I understand that that’s a photo op that you would like.”

(Photo: david_shankbone/Flickr)