Despite the fact that NYPD is one of the largest police forces in the country, neither the city nor state governments currently exercise any significant oversight over the police department.
Now, a new bill introduced in the state legislature aims to change that, by creating an inspector general office to oversee the police department, a practice that is common in many other large cities. The New York Civil Liberties Union, anti-stop-and-frisk groups, and Muslim advocacy centers have all called for the appointment of an inspector general in the past.
The announcement comes in the wake of another bad, scandal-shrouded period for NYPD. Earlier this week officers shot and killed an unarmed Bronx teenager in his home, angering local communities, and crime rates are up following a mild winter.
It’s true there is already a Department of Investigation in the city — but it is responsible for keeping track of corruption in several municipal departments, and often ends up leaving police investigations to the police’s Internal Affairs Department. There is also a Commission to Combat Police Corruption, which serves under the mayor — an obvious conflict of interest given the fact that Bloomberg has called the NYPD his own private army. An inspector general’s office, by contrast, would be focused solely on overseeing the police department. There are those who say an inspector general wouldn’t be independent enough, since the office is still a government entity. Then again, you gotta start somewhere.
The bill was introduced by State Senator Kevin Parker, from Brooklyn, and co-sponsored by a former police officer, Senator Eric Adams, on Monday in Albany. However, there is no word yet on whether it has enough support to pass.