Bloomberg files suit to block City Council bias law

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is urging New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is urging the City Council to vote down a legislation creating an outside watchdog for the NYPD. (Jan. 18, 2013) Photo Credit: Getty Images

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The Bloomberg administration filed suit late Tuesday to block the bias profiling law passed by the City Council two weeks ago over the mayor's veto, a measure that the NYPD contends will hurt its crime-fighting efforts.

In a nine-page complaint filed in State Supreme Court in Manhattan, city attorneys said the new law, which prohibits profiling by police on the basis of race, ethnicity, sex and other factors, a practice known as stop and frisk, is pre-empted by state law, specifically the criminal procedure law enacted in the 1970s. The bias law also allows a person to file a lawsuit for an injunction and the payment of attorney fees as part of the costs.

The state criminal law was designed to provide a uniform and complete set of laws for the entire state, regardless of whether local legislation is consistent or inconsistent with it, the complaint stated.

"The Mayor made clear in his veto message that this anti-profiling measure is illegal and today we are taking action on his behalf to prevent the law from taking effect," said Corporation Counsel Michael A. Cardozo in a statement. "This suit is necessary to prevent the City Council from enacting laws where the state's exclusive authority has been established."

The council overrode Bloomberg's veto of both the bias profiling measure and the creation of a permanent inspector general for the NYPD on Aug. 22. Bloomberg's lawsuit only challenges the profiling measure and not the inspector general provision.

Both Bloomberg and NYPD commissioner Ray Kelly have strongly criticized both laws, saying they very likely will lead to more violence and other crimes because of the uncertainty they would cause among rank-and-file police officers.

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City Council Speaker Christine Quinn didn't support the bias profiling measure because she said that profiling could already be challenged in federal court and that lawsuits in state court would generate inconsistent rulings. She supported the inspector general law.

In a statement Tuesday, Quinn said the council would fight Bloomberg's lawsuit.

"Mayor Bloomberg can sue all he wants, but at the end of the day, we will successfully beat back this ill-advised litigation and ensure the prerogative of the City Council to reform stop & frisk," Quinn said.

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