Mayor Michael Bloomberg made a forceful and blunt defense Tuesday of the NYPD, invoking the recent Boston terror bombings and past high murder rates as a reminder of what could happen if police are forced to curtail stop and frisk and counterterrorism tactics.
Addressing police brass at NYPD headquarters in Manhattan, Bloomberg said the city's law enforcement was under attack in the courts and in the City Council.
"My message is simple: Stop playing politics with public safety," Bloomberg said. "Look at what's happened in Boston. Remember what happened here on 9/11. Remember all of those who've been killed by gun violence -- and the families they left behind. We owe it to all of them to give our officers the tools they need to protect innocent lives or people will needlessly die and we'll all be responsible."
Bloomberg criticized City Council proposals to create an NYPD inspector general and to ban racial profiling. He said earlier legislation already had made racial profiling illegal. When he finished, Commissioner Ray Kelly and scores of high-ranking NYPD officials stood and applauded the mayor.
Saying "we don't need extremists on the left or the right running our police department," Bloomberg exhorted elected city officials to stand up to special interests and "support common-sense policing tactics like stop and frisk."
He singled out The New York Times, which has editorialized against stop and frisk, Bloomberg criticized the newspaper for not reporting the recent slaying by gunfire of 17-year-old Bronx high school student Alphonza Bryant.
He also criticized the New York Civil Liberties Union and Center for Constitutional Rights, civil liberties organizations that have sued the NYPD over various issues, for not voicing outrage about the killing. "Do you think that if a white 17-year-old prep student from Manhattan had been murdered, the Times would have ignored it?" Bloomberg said. "Me neither."
"The Times aggressively covers violence in the city's neighborhoods, and to select one murder as evidence to the contrary is disingenuous," said Danielle Rhoades Ha, spokeswoman for the newspaper. "His claim of racial bias is absurd."
A spokesman for the Center for Constitutional Rights, which is suing the city over stop and frisk, said it was cynical of Bloomberg to use Bryant's death to criticize the organization. "We don't think illegal and racially discriminatory stop and frisks have ever saved anybody's life," said center attorney Darius Charney.
Spokesmen for the City Council and NYCLU didn't return calls for comment.
An earlier version of this story mispelled the name of Bronx high school student Alphonza Bryant.