A new inspector general for the NYPD, and new ways for New Yorkers to sue the department for racial profiling.
After months of reporting, debating, and analyzing these issues the New York City Council closed another chapter – with two decisive veto override votes in the ongoing struggle to find a balance between effective policing and meaningful community relations.
PIX11 first met Alfredo Carrasquillo last week – outside the Mott Haven Houses in the Bronx, where he told us he’d been involved in several stop, question, frisk encounters with NYPD officers. Encounters that left him questioning the future of the department’s relationship with thousands of New Yorkers of color in the city’s tougher neighborhoods.
He was encouraged by the recent federal court decision that found the NYPD’s version of stop-and-frisk unconstitutional and he is optimistic about the Council’s decision to create a new layer of departmental oversight toward an old fashioned idea.
“Old fashioned policing. I want to be able to walk down my block, and know the officer’s first and last name, and know that he’s there for me and he’s my friend,” Carrasquillo told PIX11.
It remains to be seen whether an Inspector General, or the heightened threat of racial profiling litigation can change or influence the NYPD’s tactics.
The bills’ opponents – from City Council members to Mayor Bloomberg — remain unconvinced.
In a statement, the mayor said, “…the City Council adopted legislation that will make it harder for our police officers to protect New Yorkers and continue to drive down crime. Make no mistake: the communities that will feel the most negative impacts of these bills will be minority communities across our city”
“No one has been able to suggest to me, or make a very valid argument as to how having an inspector general, or empowering D.O.I. to look over the shoulder of the police department, is going to make New Yorkers any safer – or lower crime for that matter,” said Queens Councilman Eric Ulrich.
Ultimately, a majority of Council members agreed with Brooklyn representative and Community Safety Act Co-Sponsor Jumaane Williams — who acknowledges celebrating its passage will be, by necessity, short-lived.
Mayor Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly are standing their ground on the stop-and-frisk issue. When PIX11 asked Councilman Williams if he has resigned himself to working with the next administration and just trying to bide his time until then, Williams responded, “I never give up on anyone. It’s unfortunate that we got where we are, because the administration refused to come to the table. So, they still have an opportunity to do the right thing because they’re on the wrong side of history.”