Tag Archives: NYPD oversight bills

City Council overrides Bloomberg’s Community Safety Act veto


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo via Twitter / @MarkWeprin

The New York City Council voted to override Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s veto of the controversial Community Safety Act.

The act contains two bills, one that 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.

The racial profiling bill override passed 34-15 on Thursday and the inspector general bill override passed 39-10. The profiling measure will go into effect 90 days after the vote and the inspector general will be appointed by the new mayor in January.

Bloomberg expressed his disagreement with the override in a statement after the City Council meeting and vowed to fight the bills before they go in effect.

“Make no mistake; the communities that will feel the most negative impacts of these bills will be minority communities across our city, which have been the greatest beneficiaries of New York City’s historic crime reductions,” Bloomberg said. “It is a dangerous piece of legislation and we will ask the courts to step in before innocent people are harmed.”

Opponents of the bills believe that the NYPD doesn’t need to have another monitor and that the racial profiling bill will cause officers and the police department to be tied up in court, instead of fighting crime.

“The role to have permanent oversight of the police department belongs to the police commissioner, belongs to the City Council members who serve on the Public Safety Committee, which refused to pass these laws to begin with,” Councilmember Eric Ulrich said. “This is not going to lower crime; the only thing it’s going to lower is the moral of the police department.”

Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr., who was against the bills, missed the vote to move his daughters into the University of Notre Dame. “The city just became less safe,” Vallone tweeted.

Supporters of the bills believe that minorities were unfairly targeted by the stop-and-frisk policy and the bills were necessary to stop racial profiling.

“This vote for me is a very easy one,” Councilmember Mark Weprin said. “I have no choice but to vote what I believe in my heart. And I feel very strongly that this is a problem that needs to be addressed. This is a policy that needs to be reformed.”

Supporters also believe that the bill will improve relations between the cops and minorities.

“By reforming this policy, these residents will be less likely to second guess a police officer’s intentions and be more willing to help them in their investigation,” said Councilmember Leroy Comrie. “I am proud to vote with my colleagues in overturning the mayor’s veto and would like to thank them for helping to make this city a safer place to live.”

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup

TODAY’S FORECAST

Thursday: Overcast with a chance of a thunderstorm and a chance of rain. High of 86. Winds from the SW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 40%. Thursday night: Mostly cloudy with a chance of a thunderstorm and a chance of rain. Low of 70. Winds from the West at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 30%.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Jazz Thursdays

The Forest Hills Chamber of Commerce presents live jazz with Cheryl Pepsii Riley on 70th Road between Austin Street and Queens Boulevard on Thursday, August 22 at 7 p.m. Free. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

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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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Mayor Bloomberg vetoes NYPD oversight bills


| lguerre@queenscourier.com


Mayor Michael Bloomberg kept his promise to veto two controversial bills that could increase oversight of the NYPD.

“New York is the safest big city in the country, and the NYPD is the most professional and most effective police department in the country,” Bloomberg said in his veto message Tuesday. “It is also subject to more internal and external oversight than any other police department in the United States.”

The Community Safety Act, which proposes two bills, was approved by the City Council about three weeks ago. One of the bills creates an independent 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.

Opponents of the bill are praising Bloomberg’s veto.

“It is not an exaggeration nor is it a doomsday threat to say that passage of this legislation is dangerous for the city and that it will turn the NYPD from a successful, crime fighting, proactive department back into the hesitant and reactive one we had during the crime filled days of the 80s and 90s,” said Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association president Patrick J. Lynch. “If these bills become law, it will force police officers to protect themselves against frivolous lawsuits instead of protecting the city from criminals.”

Supporters have already vowed to override the mayor’s veto. They believe the bills will end “abuse” of the  stop-and-frisk policy, which they said overly targets minorities, and will help improve relations with cops.

“Mayor Bloomberg’s decision to veto the Community Safety Act is another example of how out of touch this administration is with communities across the city,” said Councilmember Leroy Comrie, who led a group of councilmembers and Borough President Helen Marshall to reaffirm their support of the bills in front of Queens Borough Hall.

“This Act will help build back the trust that is critical between precincts and their communities in order to find those who are actually breaking the law, and not the innocent people are who stopped every day,” Comrie added.

The City Council has 30 days to override the mayor’s veto.

 

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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.”

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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