Mayor Michael Bloomberg Thursday harshly criticized the U.S. Justice Department's support for an independent monitor to oversee the NYPD if a federal judge rules that its stop-and-frisk policy unconstitutionally targets blacks and Hispanics.
Bloomberg said such oversight would be disruptive and confusing for officers.
"This is just a terrible idea, and it's not needed," he said. "We have disciplined and well-trained police officers whose experience has been paid in blood."
New York City is defending its stop-and-frisk policy against a lawsuit that charges it violates people's civil rights. The city has opposed the idea of a monitor as an intrusion.
"The NYPD has just done a spectacular job, and it just makes no sense whatsoever when lives are on the line to change the rules and hamper the police department from doing their job," Bloomberg said.
The Justice Department entered the debate late Wednesday -- the last day to file paperwork in the case.
"The experience of the United States in enforcing police reform injunctions teaches that the appointment of an independent monitor is a critically important asset to the court, the parties and the community in cases involving patterns or practices of unlawful conduct by law enforcement officials," the Justice Department said in its 21-page brief.
After a two-month trial in federal court in Manhattan over allegations that NYPD street stops occur without a legal basis of "reasonable suspicion" and target minorities, final briefs from both sides have been filed. U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin has said she hoped to issue a decision quickly.
Plaintiffs in the case called U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder's "statement of interest" a positive development.
"You always want the Department of Justice's civil rights division to do what they have done in other cases, which is bring their considerable expertise and resources to bear," said Baher Azmy of the Center for Constitutional Rights, a Manhattan-based legal advocacy nonprofit.
The Justice Department did not say whether Scheindlin should find that NYPD practices have been improper, and did not urge that it serve as monitor or seek to intervene in the case. But it disputed city claims that court intrusion would interfere with policing.
"Reform through a court-ordered process improves public confidence, makes officers' jobs safer, and increases the ability of the department to fight crime," the Justice Department said.Two GOP candidates for mayor, former MTA chairman Joe Lhota and John Catsimatidis, Red Apple Group chief executive, reject curbs on stop-and-frisk.
Comptroller John Liu wants stop-and-frisk banned, while his fellow Democrats, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and former congressman Anthony Weiner, support restrictions. One of their rivals, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, wants an inspector general; another, former Comptroller Bill Thompson, does not, though he has raised concerns about possible constitutional violations.
With Maria Alvarez