By Mary Frost
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Mayor Michael Bloomberg said on Wednesday he would veto a proposal to appoint an inspector general to oversee policies at the New York City police department.
The inspector general bill before the City Council is one of a set of bills in the Community Safety Act aimed at curbing controversial NYPD practices like “stop-and-frisk,” where police detain and search city residents in high-crime neighborhoods without a warrant.
On Tuesday, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, a frontrunner the race for Mayor, announced her support for the inspector general portion of the act. “We can’t have a practice like this go unchecked,” she told the New York Daily News.
At a trial in Manhattan federal Court this week, the Center for Constitutional Rights is arguing that the NYPD, through stop-and-frisk, has “laid siege to black and Latino neighborhoods.”
The Mayor, however, said an inspector general would create unnecessary bureaucracy at the NYPD and reduce safety in the city.
“Last year we set a new record low for murders in the city – and a record low for shootings,” he said at a meeting on Wednesday. “We did it by recruiting the most diverse police force in the nation, training our officers in smart and proactive policing strategies. That included targeting criminal hotspots, and stopping, questioning, and sometimes frisking people who may have been engaged in criminal activity.”
Besides creating an inspector general, the Community Safety Act, sponsored by Brooklyn Council Members Jumaane Williams and Brad Lander along with other Council Members, would ban profiling based on race, religion, immigration status, gender identity and other categories. It would protect New Yorkers against unlawful searches, and require officers to identify themselves and explain why they are stopping someone.
"Black and Latino men are far, far more likely to be stopped, questioned, and frisked than other New Yorkers, and rarely have done anything wrong,” Williams and Lander said in a joint statement on Tuesday. “It could not be clearer that New York City needs to end discriminatory policing by passing the Community Safety Act.”
The NYPD stopped almost 700,000 people in 2011, up from more than 90,000 a decade ago. Nearly 87 percent were black or Hispanic. Four out of five precincts with the highest number of stops were in Brooklyn. Roughly ten percent of those stopped were arrested.
In January the Brooklyn Eagle reported that Brooklyn resident Jurard St. Hillair, finding himself the subject of the New York Police Department’s stop-and-frisk tactic for a second time, filed a lawsuit against the city. A video surveillance tape showed the police officers aggressively pushing St. Hillaire against a wall to search him.