Mayor Michael Bloomberg vowed Thursday to stop two bills aimed at reining in police stop-and-frisks from becoming law, assuring the controversy's place as a wedge issue when the election season heats up.
Bloomberg's plan to veto the bills that were passed overnight by the City Council -- and the council's subsequent override attempt -- could drag on for two months. The Sept. 10 primary for the candidates hoping to succeed Bloomberg would be just around the corner.
The bills passed by veto-proof margins, but Bloomberg held out hope of changing enough votes on the "dangerous" legislation.
"There's people who may vote for a bill and then be willing to maintain the mayor's veto," he said. "This is a fight to defend your life and your kids' lives. . . . I will not give up."
By 40 to 11, the council voted to install an inspector general to oversee the police department. The second bill, passed 34 to 17, adds categories such as age, race, ethnicity and sexual orientation to the definition of bias-based profiling and enables individuals to sue the NYPD for alleged violations in state court. A veto override needs 34 votes.
Supporters said the bills, called the Community Safety Act, will curb discrimination in stop-and-frisk practices.
Police Commisisoner Ray Kelly said the measures have "a potential for increasing crime and making police officers' jobs much more difficult."
Police unions agreed. "It will strip officers from the street while they are forced to justify every action in court as not being 'bias-based,' " said Pat Lynch, president of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association.
Louis Turco, president of the Lieutenants Benevolent Association, which endorsed former Comptroller Bill Thompson for mayor, slammed a Thompson rival, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, for letting the bills come to vote. The Detectives' Endowment Association similarly accused her of "playing election-year politics."
Quinn voted for the inspector general bill but not the profiling bill. She said her job is to "do what's right for New York," and if others criticize her for it, "then that's their problem."
Thompson has said Bloomberg and Kelly "abused" the stop-and-frisk practice, but opposes the profiling bill and says the NYPD should have a monitor, but not an outside one.
Former Rep. Anthony Weiner, also a critic of stop-and-frisk practices, doesn't outright support either bill. He said he would have many "elements of oversight. I don't believe that we need a second one, or a third one or a fifth one."
Comptroller John Liu backed the bias-based profiling bill, saying "we can keep people safe without violating basic rights." Public Advocate Bill de Blasio said, "I'm the only candidate who would sign both of these bills into law."
Among Republicans, Joseph Lhota said the bills put "the lives of every New Yorker at risk," and John Catsimatidis called it an "unsafety" act.