Editorial: NYPD doesn't need more oversight

A New York City police officer keeps vigil

A New York City police officer keeps vigil in a NYC subway station in this undated file photo. (Credit: Getty Images)

The last thing New York City needs is a helter-skelter election-year plan to create an office that rides herd on the NYPD. That kind of oversight is already the mayor’s job. But what if the mayor falls short?

There’s no shortage of backup overseers waiting in the wings. District attorneys in the five boroughs can jump into high-stakes NYPD imbroglios. If the DAs demur, the city is always subject to scrutiny from two U.S. attorneys. And the Civilian Complaint Review Board remains on call to investigate individual police-brutality claims.

At the moment, serious constitutional challenges to NYPD stop-and-frisk policies are playing out in a civil case in federal court.

In response to this and other police furors, Council Speaker Christine Quinn, a mayoral candidate, is hammering out legislation to create an NYPD inspector general — someone to keep an eye on the cops and the brass.

The city needs an extra layer of police governance like it needs another hurricane. The bill has yet to be finalized. But rest assured that Mayor Michael Bloomberg will give it a veto the instant it hits his desk. He bitterly opposes the idea. But the council will just as quickly override.

The mayor’s office says that if the inspector general plan becomes law, the next mayor will wind up sharing control of the NYPD with some appointed factotum. Not an appealing prospect. But others say the still-unseen measure would simply allow a savvy fact-finder to gather information on NYPD disputes — an investigator and not a bureaucratic Caesar who would grab control from City Hall.

Given the tough job the police face in a metropolis of 8.3 million diverse people, highly emotional public controversies are inevitable. And facts — cold, hard, impartial, unassailable facts — are indispensable as these fights rage. But again, it’s not clear what Quinn’s bill will actually deliver.

So here’s a better idea for all mayoral candidates. Run your best race. Tell us how you’d do better work than Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly. And if you should be elected to run the NYPD and every other New York City agency, just do your job.  

Tags: opinion

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