Michael Bloomberg and NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly received yet another blow to their policing policies today as the City Council voted to squash the mayor's vetoes of two bills designed to require more law-enforcement oversight. With Bloomberg's reign ending, the frustration of a court ruling calling stop-and-frisk unconstitutional is now compounded by the passage of the Community Safety Act, which will require an independent inspector general for the NYPD and allow New Yorkers to more easily sue over racial profiling. The inspector general for the department is scheduled, by law, to start January 1, 2014, but is a separate position from the federal stop-and-frisk monitor ordered by Judge Shira Scheindlin earlier this month.
In a bit of election-year calculus, Council speaker and mayoral candidate Christine Quinn voted with the 39 to 10 majority to pass the inspector general bill, but voted against the lawsuit bill, which narrowly survived, 34 votes to 15. "This is a historic day in the City Council," said Quinn. "We've seen in this city policies and practices in the Police Department that have gotten out of hand. This is a practice that needs immediate reform. We are getting it done."
Mayor Bloomberg promised to challenge the bills in court and kept up his unflinching rhetoric of fear. "Make no mistake," he said in a statement, "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."
The Times reports from the scene of the vote: "Despite the political fighting, on the steps of City Hall a jubilant atmosphere reigned among a crowd of activists and council members, wearing colorful shirts or holding signs and chanting, 'Override veto, override.'"