Mayor Michael Bloomberg came out swinging Wednesday over a City Council proposal to have an inspector general for the NYPD, blasting the idea as a recipe for disaster that would create two competing police commissioners and sow confusion among the rank and file officers.
Acknowledging that many large departments and law enforcement agencies have so called "IG" offices, Bloomberg said their job was to combat corruption and misconduct, as well as fight waste and fraud.
"But our City Council's bill would create a new bureaucracy with the power to oversee the policies and strategies -- that's what they say, policies and strategies -- adopted by the police commissioner," Bloomberg told reporters during a news conference to announce a data center in lower Manhattan. He promised to veto the measure if it passed, while council Speaker Christine Quinn promised an override.
"That is not an inspector general, that's a policy supervisor, and I don't think any rational person would say we need two competing police commissioners," Bloomberg said. "There would be questions in the ranks of police officers about who is really in charge -- and whose polices they should follow. That kind of breakdown in the chain of command would be disastrous for public safety."
"Make no mistake about it: This bill jeopardizes that progress and will put the lives of New Yorkers and our police officers at risk," he said.
Bloomberg was reacting to news that a group of council members had hashed out a still undisclosed broad agreement about the inspector general position, something originally introduced last year in a package of bills known as the community protection act. As introduced, the inspector general would oversee "policies and practices" of the NYPD and analyze their impact on "civil liberties, among other things," council documents show.
Responding to Bloomberg, aspiring Democratic mayoral candidate Quinn saw a benefit to an police overseer, adding "one would argue having this kind of additional monitoring will keep the police department on point, on target and focused on what they can do to keep crime down."
Quinn said the friction between the NYPD and minority communities on stop and frisk was creating rifts which made it harder to keep people safe, although she didn't cite examples.
Bloomberg and the NYPD have stressed that the department is already subject to review by the five city district attorneys, two U.S. attorneys, the mayor's commission to combat police corruption and the civilian complaint review board. The new City Council measure would put the inspector general under the city Department of Investigation, said one council member.
Police historian and author Thomas Reppetto said the council idea suggested a time when the city in the 1960s had two de facto police commissioners, which created competing organizational fiefdoms.