BY LIAM LA GUERRE AND DENISE ROMANO
The New York City Council approved legislation that could make dramatic changes to the management of the NYPD.
Early this morning the Council passed the Community Safety Act, which contains two separate bills.
One will create an inspector general to oversee the activities of the police department and have subpoena power, while the other bill will make it easier for people to sue the NYPD over racial profiling.
“#Victory! Tonight, the @NYCCouncil passed the #CommunitySafetyAct by a veto-proof majority! This day is long overdue,” tweeted Brooklyn Councilmember Jumaane Williams, who drafted the legislation.
Supporters of the bill are celebrating the passage of the legislation, saying the NYPD abuses its stop-and-frisk policy, which allows officers to halt people and search them, and the surveillance of Muslims.
“This morning the Council took a major step towards reining in racial profiling in New York City,” NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous said. The Council acted to restore sanity and safety to the streets of New York City and the lives of hundreds and thousands of young people.”
Councilmember David Greenfield, who represents Borough Park, Midwood and parts of Bensonhurst voted for the inspector general bill and against the stop-and-frisk profiling bill.
“I think the inspector general is something that every major, important organization in the U.S. has, including the IRS, FBI and the CIA has them,” Greenfield contended. “I think it will improve the NYPD and make it better and New Yorkers safer.”
But the councilmember contended that the language in the stop-and-frisk legislation can open up lawsuits against individual police officers, instead of the NYPD as a whole.
“There are lots of good cops who are trying to do their job and opening them up to lawsuits is not fair, in my opinion,” Greenfield said.
However, Councilmember Sara Gonzalez, who represents Sunset Park, parts of Bay Ridge, Red Hook and Windsor Terrace, voted in favor of both bills – causing her to lose the endorsement of the Detective’s Endowment Association.
“[Police officers] provide a vital service to our communities. With that being said, the best interest of my constituents is my only concern,” Gonzalez said. “This legislation will make the communities I have lived in all my life, raised my family in, and served for decades as a public health advocate, community board chair, and councilwoman, safer and fairer. I am proud to have voted for them, and will proudly cast my vote to override Mayor Bloomberg’s veto.”
Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association and others against the bill said that it will hamper the work of the officers and increase crime.
“Last year, there were a record-low number of murders and a record-low number of shootings in our city, and this year, we’re on pace to break both of those records,” Bloomberg said in a statement released earlier today. “Unfortunately, these dangerous pieces of legislation will only hurt police officers’ ability to protect New Yorkers and sustain this tremendous record of accomplishment.”
Bloomberg promised to veto the bills, but the City Council is expected to have enough votes to overturn the veto, according to reports.