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Mayoral candidate Joseph Lhota said Monday that the whole issue of “stop, question and frisk” has been widely misunderstood and has become a political football.
Standing in front of City Hall to call on Council Speaker Christine Quinn to withdrew support for a police department “inspector general” bill, Lhota said he sees it as “part of the education process for people in all communities in the city to understand the role that stop, question and frisk plays.” A civil trial involving the constitutionality of the policy and practices is taking place in federal court nearby.
Lhota has been calling the IG provision set to be enacted over Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s expected veto an unnecessary layer of bureaucracy – and now calls it “dangerous regarding public safety.”
And while praising the job Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and Bloomberg have done in the past 11 years, Lhota warned of an increase in rape and felonious assault in the most recent years to suggest how “fragile” crime-fighting gains may be. The goal should be to "un-handcuff" the NYPD, he said.
His position could, of course, play one way in the GOP primary and another in the general election. But it does dovetail in parts with what some Democrats have said in reaction to the Quinn agreement on the bill.
On the monitoring measure, Lhota took aim in particular at a provision that would put an office in charge of not only reviewing operations – the proper role of an IG -- but assessing policies. The questioning at his news conference naturally turned to stop-and-frisk because that’s the policy – controversial in minority neighborhoods -- believed to be shaping Quinn’s legislative actions as she runs for mayor. The city, he said, already has institutional monitors that include district attorneys, attorneys general, the Civilian Complaint Review Board and, if exercised, the powers of the City Council.
Lhota also supports frequent training for police carrying out stops.