Just hours after another report on questionable NYPD tactics, City Council passed two bills early on Thursday morning that aim to provide more oversight for the NYPD. One bill would create an independent inspector general for the department, and the other allows for more racial profiling lawsuits against the NYPD. Both Mayor Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly are vehemently opposed to the measures, but that probably doesn’t matter anymore. The Daily News reports that the inspector general bill passed 40-11, and the racial profiling bill passed 34-17 — which is exactly the number of votes needed to override a veto from Mayor Bloomberg.
The new bill would establish an inspector general with subpoena power that could investigate the NYPD’s practices and recommend changes, but not force the department to implement them. (The AP notes that the federal civil trial over the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk policy could add separate monitoring as well.) The other measure expands the definition of racial profiling, allowing plaintiffs to argue that a certain practice affects some groups disproportionately, even if they can’t prove that the officer intended to discriminate. The suits couldn’t seek money, but could result in court orders to change NYPD practices.
Councilman Jumaane Williams, one of the bill’s lead sponsors, said there have been “a lot of bald-faced lies told about this bill,” and assured his colleagues that, “We can have safety and can have police accountability at the exact same time.” Others denounced that claim, using dramatic terms. “It will achieve the ultimate goal of this bill, to put judges in charge of the NYPD,” said Councilman Peter Vallone. “When the courts are in charge, we will become Chicago, we will become Detroit. Crime will soar, murder will rise, children will die.”
Refusing to admit defeat, Bloomberg promised to veto the bill and said he’ll work on changing Council members’ minds before the override vote. “Last year, there were a record-low numbers 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 minutes after the vote. “Unfortunately, these dangerous pieces of legislation will only hurt our police officers’ ability to protect New Yorkers and sustain this tremendous record of accomplishment.”