Tag Archives: Community Safety Act

Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association sues over stop-and-frisk


| lguerre@queenscourier.com


The Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association (PBA) slapped the city with a lawsuit on Tuesday to challenge the profiling measure of the Community Safety Act.

The organization charges that the City Council overstepped its boundaries by passing Local Law 71, which allows individuals to more easily sue the city over discrimination, such as with some stop-and-frisk encounters. Racial profiling protection is preempted by New York State Criminal Procedure Law, the lawsuit said, and cannot be changed by local governing bodies.

“The language of so-called ‘biased policing law’ is unconstitutionally vague and will only serve to confuse police officers regarding its racial profiling provisions while hampering their ability to enforce the existing state laws that keep our city safe,” PBA president Patrick Lynch said.

The City Council passed the Community Safety Act on August 22, following a successful override vote of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s veto. The legislation includes two laws aimed at shifting management and policies in the NYPD.

One of the laws will create an inspector general position to oversee the activities of the police department, while Local Law 71 will expand biased-based protection from ethnicity, religion and national origin to age, gender, sexual orientation and other categories.

The mayor’s office is also suing the city over the profiling legislation for attempting to alter State Criminal Procedure Law.

 

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Councilmember Ruben Wills re-elected to City Council


| mhayes@queenscourier.com


Incumbent Councilmember Ruben Wills will continue on through another term in the 28th City Council District.

Wills beat out attorney Hettie Powell, Reverend David Kayode and Eugene Walter Evans for the seat with almost 50 percent of all votes.

After being elected to the City Council in a 2010 special election, Wills has been hard at work throughout Jamaica, South Ozone Park, Richmond Hill and Rochdale.

He wrote and introduced the Communtiy Violence Prevention Act, which established the city’s responsibility to stem the rise of violence in vulnerable communities. He also co-sponsored the Community Safety Act, aimed at ending discriminatory NYPD stop and frisk policies.

Wills as well has provided nearly $2 million in support of local community groups, after-school and youth programs and senior services.

His political experience goes back to 2003, when he was a special assistant to Councilmember Leroy Comrie and later became chief of staff to former State Senator Shirley Huntley.

Mayor Bloomberg files suit to stop law making it easier to sue city over profiling


| lguerre@queenscourier.com


From the City Council to the courts.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg filed a lawsuit in Manhattan Supreme Court on Tuesday against the City Council to challenge a law that would make it easier for people to sue the city in discrimination cases.

The mayor’s latest move in the battle over the controversial Community Safety Act only targets the profiling measure and doesn’t include the law that creates an inspector general.

The profiling law will expand biased-based protection from ethnicity, religion and national origin to age, gender, sexual orientation and other categories. It allows individuals to sue in state courts and seek declaratory or injunctive relief, such as asking a judge change the city’s practices, instead of monetary damages.

Bloomberg said in the lawsuit the profiling law “exceeds the bounds of permissible legislation in the Council,” because changing criminal procedure law is restricted for the state legislature.

“There’s an important principle at stake here,” Corporation Counsel Michael Cardozo said in a statement. “Local legislative bodies should not be passing laws affecting the regulation of law enforcement activity in this way.”

The Community Safety Act was originally passed on June 26, following strong support from minority groups, who said they were being unfairly targeted by the Police Department. Statistics show cops stop-and-frisk minorities with about a 9:1 ratio to whites.

U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin recently ruled stop-and-frisk was being used unconstitutionally, but Bloomberg said the policy has resulted in lowering crime and gun possession and has filed to appeal the decision.

Opponents of the Community Safety Act believe the profiling bill will tie up the Police Department in court.

Last week a Queens black man was the first person to file a lawsuit against the city over alleged illegal stop-and-frisk, following Scheindlin’s ruling.

Allen Moye, 55, of Jamaica, was stopped three years ago and arrested, but charges were dropped, according to reports.

Queens opponents of the new laws are supporting Bloomberg’s lawsuit.

“I am hopeful that it will be successful in overturning the most dangerous bill ever enacted and removing the handcuffs the City Council has placed on our police officers,” said Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr., “All this legislation does is hand over control of the NYPD to the courts and control of our streets to violent criminals.”

The City Council now has 20 days to file a response.

 

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Judge rules NYPD’s stop-and-frisk policy unconstitutional


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Liam La Guerre

Score another win for opponents of the NYPD’s controversial stop-and-frisk policy.

U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin ruled Monday that the police department’s use of the policy is unconstitutional and suggested the appointment of a monitor to reform it.

“I find that the city is liable for violating plaintiffs’ Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights,” Scheindlin wrote. “The city acted with deliberate indifference toward the NYPD’s practice of making unconstitutional stops and conducting unconstitutional frisks.”

The ruling comes months after the City Council approved the Community Safety Act, which contained a bill to easy it easier to take the NYPD to court over discrimination cases. Mayor Michael Bloomberg vetoed the Community Safety Act a few weeks ago and criticized Scheindlin’s decision.

“Throughout the trail that just concluded the judge made it clear that she was not at all interested in the crime reductions here (in the city) or how we achieved them,” Bloomberg said at a press conference today.

He later added, “Through the case we didn’t believe that we were getting a fair trial and this decision confirms that suspicion.”

Minorities groups have been fighting the policy, saying that stop-and-frisk is unfairly used against black and Hispanics. Scheindlin confirmed this belief with her judgment.

“In practice, the policy encourages the targeting of young black and Hispanic men based on their prevalence in local crime complaints,” Scheindlin wrote. “This is a form of racial profiling.”

Scheindlin didn’t rule to dispatch the policy completely, but just to reform it.

“The opinion does not call for the NYPD to abandon proactive policing and return to an era of less effective police practices,” Scheindlin said.

Proponents of stop-and-frisk disagreed with Scheindlin’s ruling and called the decision to add a monitor to the program unnecessary.

“The NYPD does not need an additional monitor,” said Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr, although he did agree though that the policy should be reformed. “We can agree on that and move forward to continue reform stop-and-risk but make sure that continues to happen so that we save young lives.”

Opponents of the stop-and-frisk policy are embracing the ruling whole-heartedly.

“The ruling issued by Judge Scheindlin only confirms what so many New Yorkers already know, that the way stop, question, and frisk has been implemented is a violation of people’s constitutional rights,” said Councilmember Leroy Comrie. “The public wants the police to keep them safe, and the reforms mandated by this ruling will help hold the NYPD accountable, while also forcing changes to policies that will build a stronger relationship between precincts and the communities they are trying to protect.”

Bloomberg said they city will appeal the decision.

 

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Councilmember Mark Weprin faces potential challenger in general election


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Joseph Concannon’s campaign

Numerous police unions are backing one candidate’s bid to unseat incumbent Councilmember Mark Weprin.

Joseph Concannon, a retired police captain from Bellerose, announced his run for City Council on August 8 — with the full support of several law enforcement groups, including the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association (PBA).

“I can assure you I will never risk the safety and security of one New York City citizen at any time at all,” Concannon said.

The PBA pledged in June to invest its full resources to target councilmembers, including Weprin, who voted in favor of the Community Safety Act. The union distributed anti-Weprin leaflets in Bayside in July.

“No councilmember who puts this city at risk will have a free ride in the next election,” PBA president Patrick Lynch said.

Two oversight bills in the act would create an inspector general to oversee the NYPD and allow individuals to sue the city in state court over the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk practices.

The PBA and Concannon said the bills would increase crime and handcuff police.

“I didn’t pick this fight. I didn’t ask for this challenge,” Concannon said. “I’m afraid that Mark Weprin and all the members have come to this with a very faint heart. They don’t understand the reach of this bill and what it will do to police officers we send out into the street.”

Concannon is planning to make the Reform Party line. He ran for State Senate as a Republican last year and lost to incumbent Tony Avella.

The Detectives Endowment Association, Lieutenants Benevolent Association, Sergeants Benevolent Association and Captains Endowment Association have also endorsed his candidacy.

Weprin stood by his vote, saying the bills would keep the city safe without leading to an increase in lawsuits since there is no monetary incentive.

“Everyone has the right to run,” he said. “I know Joe a little bit. I respect his service to our country and city. I just think that the law is in the best interest of New York City.”

If Concannon collects the 450 petition signatures he needs to make the ballot by August 20, he will face off with Weprin in the November general election.

“The voters will decide in the election,” Weprin said. “Having no opponent would be better, but this is democracy and democracy will run its course.”

 

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Op-Ed: Community Safety Act: Setting the record straight


| oped@queenscourier.com


COUNCILMEMBER MARK S. WEPRIN

There has recently been a great deal of heated discussion about the two bills that comprise the Community Safety Act (Introductions 1079 and 1080), which the New York City Council passed in late June.  New Yorkers have been receiving some false information on these bills, so I think the time has come to calm down and look at the facts.

Introduction 1080 does not prevent police officers from using stop-and-frisk.  Police profiling based on race and other categories is already unlawful, based on a 2004 bill signed by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg.  Yet under both current law and Introduction 1080, police officers can include race, gender, age and other relevant information when pursuing criminal suspects.

While Introduction 1080 does not eliminate or alter stop-and-frisk, it does address bias-based profiling.  This has become an epidemic over the past decade, all because of Bloomberg’s insistence that officers conduct an increasing number of quota-driven stops. Every day I hear unsettling stories of local residents, law-abiding taxpayers, being stopped on the street in their own neighborhoods for no apparent reason. Stops increased by a jarring seven hundred percent from 2002 to 2011 without a corresponding drop in gun violence.  Introduction 1080 will not prevent police officers from stopping people, but it does reiterate that officers must have a law enforcement basis for a stop.

It has been suggested that Introduction 1080 opens the door to frivolous lawsuits, but when other states enacted similar laws, the numbers of lawsuits did not significantly increase.  Additionally, plaintiffs in New York City cannot seek monetary damages under the bill, nor can they sue individual officers.  Instead, if policies are discriminatory or ineffective, individuals can sue to have those policies changed.  By prompting the abandonment of wasteful practices, Introduction 1080 will actually save the city millions of dollars.

Finally, Introduction 1079 simply allows the New York City Department of Investigation to have oversight of the New York City Police Department (NYPD).  Almost all city agencies have Inspectors General, as do federal departments like the Central Intelligence Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigations.  Those agencies are not held back by Inspectors General, and the NYPD will not be either.

I have enormous respect for the work of the NYPD, and I would never vote for a law that would put New Yorkers in harm’s way or allow crime levels to increase.  On the contrary, I supported these bills because I believe they will make our city safer for all residents.

Mark Weprin was elected to the New York City Council in 2010, as the representative for District 23, covering Hollis Hills, Queens Village, Little Neck, Douglaston, Bayside, Bellerose, Floral Park, Glen Oaks, New Hyde Park, Hollis, Hollis Park Gardens, Holliswood, Fresh Meadows, and Oakland Gardens.

 

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Pols in support of Community Safety Act


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Liam La Guerre

A group of Queens councilmembers that voted in favor of controversial legislation to oversee the activities of the NYPD gathered at Borough Hall to reaffirm their support last week.

Led by Councilmember Leroy Comrie, the public officials, including Borough President Helen Marshall and various minority groups, said the Community Safety Act would help end profiling by police officers. The group also blasted Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association (PBA) for “attacking” councilmembers in support of the act.

“We want people to understand that these are common sense tempered measures that have been put together only after a lot of consultant with many different entities, including law enforcement,” Comrie said.

The act, which proposes two bills, was approved by the council about three weeks ago. One of the bills creates an inspector general to share oversight of the NYPD with the police commissioner. The other bill will make it easier for people to take the department to court over discrimination.

Bloomberg has since promised he will veto it.

Supporters believe it will end “abuse” of the Stop and Frisk policy, which they said overly targets minorities, and will help improve relations with cops.

“Unfortunately in this city and in particularly in communities of color, many people don’t trust the police officers,” Councilmember Mark Weprin said. “We want them to trust the police, so when they see something wrong they say something.”

Opponents believe the Community Safety Act will interrupt the NYPD by dragging officers to court for costly cases.
Brooklyn councilmember Jumaane Williams, a co-sponsor of the bill, joined the rally in support and issued a challenge to Bloomberg.

“You point out in the bill where it says you cannot use descriptions and you point out where it says police officers may be financially harmed and I will pull the bill before the override vote,” Williams said. “It’s time to put up or shut up.”

The PBA challenged councilmembers in support of the bill who have upcoming elections, such as Weprin, by supporting their opponents and handing out flyers in their district.

“The PBA is not attacking any councilmembers,” said Albert O’Leary, the PBA communications director. “We are simply informing their constituents that the officers who protect their community believe that these representatives did not vote in the best interest of the community by supporting two badly conceived and unnecessary bills.”

Mayor: Police stop too many whites, not enough minorities


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYC Mayor's Office Flickr /Photo by Spencer T Tucker

Mayor Michael Bloomberg answered critics of the city’s controversial stop-and-frisk policy by saying the NYPD doesn’t stop enough people of color and stops too many whites.

Less than one day after the City Council approved major legislation to change up management of the police department against the mayor’s wishes, Bloomberg made the controversial remark about the stop-and-frisk policy on his morning radio show on June 28.

“One newspaper and one news service, they just keep saying, ‘Oh it’s a disproportionate percentage of a particular ethnic group.’ That may be, but it’s not a disproportionate percentage of those who witnesses and victims describe as committing the murders,” Bloomberg said referring to crime statistics that show the police stop much more minorities than whites.

He added, “In that case, incidentally, I think, we disproportionately stop whites too much and minorities too little. It’s exactly the reverse of what they’re saying. I don’t know where they went to school, but they certainly didn’t take a math course, or a logic course.”

Some mayoral candidates already criticized Bloomberg’s comments.

“To turn around after communities in the city of New York– black and Latino communities– that the inappropriate use, the improper use, the misuse of stop-and-frisk that has caused so much pain and so many problems and then to turn around and say ‘I’m sorry I didn’t stop enough people’– that’s the outrageous part,” said Bill Thompson, the only black candidate running for mayor. “His comments weren’t worthy of any elected official, much less the mayor of the city of New York.”

The City Council passed the Community Safety Act on Thursday. The legislation has two bills, one that creates an inspector general to oversee the police department with the commissioner, and the other which makes it easier for people to sue the police over racial profiling cases. The second bill was pushed in part because some legislators thought the police department abused the power of stop-and-frisk.

Bloomberg has vowed to veto the bills.

 

NYC Council passes NYPD oversight legislation


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

File photo

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.”

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.

 

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