over the objections of mayor michael bloomberg and police commissioner ray kelly, the new york city council early thursday morning approved by veto-proof majorities a pair of bills aimed at increasing oversight of the new york police department (nypd) and expanding new yorkers' ability to sue over racial profiling by officers.
the two bills, known together as the community safety act, passed during a late-night meeting of the council. the meeting began after 11:00 pm and lasted more than three hours. members also voted to pass the city's budget and override a mayoral veto of a law on paid sick leave.
the two policing bills, for months, have stirred a heated public debate between its supporters - who seek a legal means to change the nypd's controversial stop and frisk program - and its detractors, among them, bloomberg and kelly, who both warned these measures would hamstring police officers and lead to a dangerous increase in crime.
one bill, known as intro 1979, would create an independent inspector general to conduct investigations, monitor and review police policy, and recommend changes to the department. the monitor would be part of the city's investigation department alongside the inspectors general for other city agencies. the law would take effect january 1, 2014, leaving the matter of the monitor to the next mayor.
the other bill, intro 1980, would expand the definition of bias-based profiling to include age, gender, housing status and sexual orientation. it also would allow individuals to sue the nypd in state court, not only for individual instances of bias, but also for policies which disproportionately affect people in any projected categories without serving a significant law enforcement goal.
both measures passed the 51-member city council with the votes needed to override a mayoral veto. after these landmark bills passed, just after 2:20 a.m., scores of supporters who had filled the chamber's gallery and waited hours through the debate erupted into loud cheers.
bloomberg, who has promised to veto both measures and this week called his opposition to them a matter of "life and death," said after the vote, "i will veto this harmful legislation and continue to make our case to council members over the coming days and weeks." an override of his veto would extend the conflict between the mayor and the council over policing. the process could take more than two months, putting the override veto only weeks before the mayoral primary.
christine quinn, the council speaker who faces a growing challenge to her early front-runner status for mayor, supported intro 1979, which passed 40-11. but she opposed intro 1980, which passed 34-17. before casting her vote she said, "i worry about having too much judicial involvement." quinn believes intro 1980 would not make new yorkers less safe.
despite her earlier stated opposition, she allowed both bills to move forward, and on monday presided over a so-called discharge vote - the first since the current structure of the council was established in 1989 - to bring the legislation out of committee, where it has stalled. the two bills were first introduced as a package last year by councilmen brad lander and jumaane williams.
the mayor has 30 days to veto the bills. the city council has 30 days from its next full meeting to hold an override veto. kelly sent a letter on tuesday to each council member urging them to vote against it. kelly argued intro 1980 could be used to force the removal of surveillance cameras. he wrote, "the bill would allow virtually everyone in new york to city to sue the police department and individual police officers over the entire range of law enforcement functions they perform."
councilman williams, responding to kelly's letter, said, "if the cameras were put in high crime neighborhoods as a response, that's good policing. if he put them there because black people live there, that's a problem." at least one council member received a call from his local police commander to protest the legislation ahead of the vote.
"they were deeply concerned about 250s and said they would be unable to perform them because of the profiling part of the reform," said councilman daniel dromm of queens, referring to the police form used for street stops. dromm said, "but for me, it's the teeth of the reform; it's the needed piece." he voted for both bills.
peter vallone, jr., the chairman of the public safety committee, said, "new yorkers went to bed a long time ago, safe in their beds. but they are going to wake up in a much more dangerous city." vallone, jr. voted against both measures.
- mark j. tuggle
- harlem, usa
- same-gender-loving contemporary descendant of enslaved africans. community activist, feminist, health educator, independent filmmaker, mentor, playwright, poet & spiritual being. featured at, in & on africana.com, afrikan poetry theatre, angel herald, bejata dot com, bet tonight with tavis smiley, blacklight online, black noir, brooklyn moon cafe, gmhc's barbershop, klmo-fm, lgbt community services center, longmoor productions, nuyorican poets cafe, our corner, poz, pulse, rolling out new york, rush arts gallery, saint veronica's church, schomburg center for research in black culture, sexplorations, the citizen, the new york times, the soundz bar, the trenton times, the village voice, upn news, uzuri, venus, vibe, wbai-fm, wnyc-fm & wqht-fm. volunteered with adodi, bailey house, inc., black men's xchange-new york, colorofchange.org, drug policy alliance, east harlem tutorial program, imagenation film & music festival, presente.org, save darfur coalition, the enough project, the osborne association, the sledge group & your black world. worked on films with maurice jamal & heather murphy. writing student of phil bertelsen & ed bullins. firstname.lastname@example.org.