It’s been a rough week for the NYPD’s public image.
Last Thursday, police capped off a string of fatal shootings by killing an unarmed National Guardsman in a traffic stop. Just yesterday, audio from a stop-and-frisk of a teen in East Harlem recorded officers calling the kid a “mutt” and threatening to break his arm just for asking questions.
Now today, City Councilors will consider a number of proposed laws intended to curb police power, put an end to some of the department’s perceived excesses, and create a degree of accountability for the NYPD that is currently nonexistent.
One bill would require police officers to tell people about their right to decline a search before performing one, as well get a signed statement indicating consent to the search.
Another bill outlaws policing based on “bias-based profiling,” defined as reliance
“on actual or perceived race, color, ethnicity, religion [or], national origin, age, sex, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, immigration or citizenship status, language, disability (including HIV status), housing status, occupation, or socioeconomic status [as the determinative factor in initiating law enforcement action against an individual], rather than [an individual’s behavior or other] on trustworthy information or circumstances, relevant to the locality and timeframe, that links a person or persons [of a particular race, ethnicity, religion national origin] to suspected unlawful activity.”
A third bill would require officers to identify themselves as police to the public before questioning, frisking, searching, or stopping them, except when doing so would jeopardize their safety or an ongoing investigation.
Lastly, the committee will consider a bill to create an Inspector General with broad investigative powers to monitor the police department and answer directly to the Mayor, issuing semiannual public reports on its findings.
Quoted in the Post yesterday, Mayor Bloomberg was unenthusiastic about the idea of more oversight of the police, warning that more oversight will make the city more dangerous.
“I think if you want to bring crime back, let’s go politicize control of the Police Department,” the mayor said, responding to a reporter’s question about a new City Council bill requiring an IG for cops getting a hearing tomorrow.
“The last thing we need is some politician or judge getting involved with setting policy, because you won’t be safe anymore. But today, you are. Think about that when you write your story,” Bloomberg added.
The City Council Committee on Public Safety meets to consider the bills this morning. We’ll bring back a report on how the conversation goes.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 10, 2012