Round Two For Two NYPD Oversight Bills, City Council Votes Thursday

by Claudia Morell
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Bloomberg vetoed the legislation saying it would make city streets less safe.

The New York City Council will attempt to override Mayor Bloomberg’s veto of the Community Safety Act Thursday.  

 

The two bills, first introduced last year, followed widespread criticism of the police department’s use of stop-question-and-frisk. One bill would amend local law to extend the definition of biased based profiling. It would also make it easier for people to sue if they believe they were wrongly stopped. The other would create the position of a mayor-appointed Inspector General that would have ongoing, broad oversight of the police department.

And if the City Council successfully overrides the mayor's veto with regard to the IG bill, the NYPD could end-up with two monitors: one that would be appointed by the mayor and one that has recently been appointed by the courts last week. 

In the case of Floyd v The City of New York, U.S. District Court Judge Shira Scheindin found the police tactic violated plaintiffs' fourth amendment rights. Scheindin appointed an outside monitor, answerable to the court, to oversee reforms to the police tactic. 
 
But having two monitors isn't as redundant as it sounds, according to Fordham Law Professor Ian Weinstein. He said the federal case and the City Council's actions each address concerns about policing in different ways, "The Inspector General, who would be appointed under the City Council legislation, would look at a broader range of issues, and would not be limited by the particular issues in contention with the federal court case.”
 
Weinstein notes that while both would have similar roles—the ability to conduct reports and issue subpoenas—they’ll still have limited power when it comes to the day-to-day operations of the police department, "Neither has the authority to counterman nor disagree directly with any decision made by the police commissioner.”
 
Mayor Bloomberg has also filed a notice of appeal. And Weinstein said in the upcoming months the appeals court could either issue a stay, and temporarily halt the judge's decision, or move forward with the federal monitor. 
 
Regardless of the vote, Weinstein notes that between the mayoral race and the overall reduction of stops by NYPD officers, much is already changing,“It seems likely that the heyday of the most aggressive stop and frisk tactics has passed for now."
 

 

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