Mayor Michael Bloomberg and several top law enforcement officials on Monday urged City Council members to reject two measures he said would hobble the NYPD, threaten the safety of the city and reverse more than a decade's worth of crime reduction.
Bloomberg took aim at bills that would enhance the ability of people to sue officers over allegations of bias and create an independent inspector general to investigate police policies and practices. He was flanked by NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly, district attorneys Richard A. Brown of Queens and Daniel M. Donovan Jr. of Staten Island, and former Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau.
"What we must not have is what these laws would create, a police department pointlessly hampered by outside intrusions and recklessly threatened by second-guessing from the court," Bloomberg said at a police headquarters news conference.
In a procedural vote Monday, the council took both bills out of the public safety committee, chaired by Peter Vallone Jr., and put them on the calendar for a full council vote by Wednesday or Thursday.
Vallone, a Democrat from Astoria, Queens, opposed the move. Vallone also opposes the two measures, noting that racial or ethnic profiling is already barred under city law.
While Bloomberg criticized the proposed inspector general's office as unnecessary, he spent much of his time attacking the so-called "biased-based" profiling measure. The bill essentially bans officers from relying on race, sex, age, religion, ethnicity and other factors as the predominate reason for police action. It also makes it easier to sue the city over the issue of police bias.
The proposal, Bloomberg argued, would allow male gang members younger than 30 to sue the NYPD if officers monitor gang activity for retaliatory shootings.
"The lawsuits the bill would allow against the tactics of Commissioner Kelly wouldn't just cause a possible financial burden, and tie up officers in court and take them off the streets. The state courts would also ban all the police tactics he [Kelly] ordered," Bloomberg said.
Kelly sarcastically said that the profiling measure would generate "so many frivolous lawsuits that the sponsors can very well call it the full employment for plaintiffs attorney act."
Kelly said an inspector general would undermine counterterrorism efforts because the NYPD's worldwide partners would no longer cooperate when faced with the prospect an outside agency could have access to confidential information.
"Take heart, al-Qaida wannabes," Kelly said.
Morgenthau, who retired in 2009, recalled how lawless and bloody the city was when he took over as prosecutor in 1974. He remembered being approached by drug dealers to sell him drugs when he toured lower Manhattan in an undercover car.
Supporters of the measure said Bloomberg was using scare tactics to foil the bills. They note that the profiling bill doesn't prevent officers from identifying a suspect by race. Supporters also said the public by an almost a 9-to-1 margin does not think independent oversight of the NYPD will make the streets unsafe.