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City Council overrides Bloomberg vetoes over police procedures

City Council Member Jumaane D. Williams hugs City

City Council Member Jumaane D. Williams hugs City Council Speaker Christine Quinn after the Council voted to overturn the Mayoral veto of legislation to end racial profiling in Manhattan. (Aug. 22, 2013) Credit: Charles Eckert

The New York City Council on Thursday voted to override vetoes by Mayor Michael Bloomberg of bills setting up a permanent inspector general for the NYPD and banning bias profiling in the controversial police procedure known as stop-and-frisk.

The council voted 39 to 10 to override the veto on the inspector general bill and 34 to 15 on the profiling measure. Thirty-four of 51 total council votes were needed to override.

Minutes after the council acted in an afternoon session laden with emotion, Bloomberg slammed the vote, saying it would make it harder for police to do their jobs. He promised to go to court to stop the measures.

Bloomberg said the legislation was the result of "election-year politics."

"Today, the City Council adopted legislation that will make it harder for our police officers to protect New Yorkers and continue to drive down crime," Bloomberg said in a prepared statement. "Make no mistake: the communities that will feel the most negative impacts of these bills will be minority communities across our city, which have been the greatest beneficiaries of New York City's historic crime reductions."

NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly also put out a statement that said minority communities would be hurt by the laws and the department doesn't racially profile.

Councilman Jumaane Williams (D-Brooklyn), one of the chief architects of the bills, choked up and thanked his mother and brother for their support as he voted in favor of the measures.

"This historic legislation not only reaffirms the constitutional rights of people of more color, but enables police officers to focus on effective crime prevention measures that ensure community safety," Williams and his co-sponsor Brad Lander (D-Brooklyn) said after the vote in a joint statement.

"The mandate to end the abuse of the stop-and-frisk program came from New Yorkers of all backgrounds," they said.

Two weeks ago a federal judge in Manhattan ruled that the NYPD's enforcement of its stop-and-frisk procedures was unconstitutional and amounted to "indirect racial profiling." Bloomberg has appealed that ruling.

James Oddo of Staten Island, one of the council's few Republicans and an opponent of the bills, said the council has to find money to hire more police officers and beef up the NYPD to the 41,000 cops it had in 2001.

Thursday's vote came as rhetoric from mayoral candidates about the measures has increased.

Mayoral candidate and council Speaker Christine Quinn supported the inspector general provision but didn't support the bias-profiling measure that is aimed at prohibiting officers from making decisions on stop and frisks and arrests on race, ethnicity or gender. Quinn believes the bias profiling bill, which also gives a person the right to file a lawsuit in state court, could create a confusing number of court rulings.

The inspector general provision, which would take effect in January, initially passed by a vote of 40 to 11 on June 26 before Bloomberg vetoed it. The bias profiling measure passed 34 to 17 before veto.

Queens Councilmen Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria), who opposed both measures, and Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone), who supported the inspector general but not the profiling bill, were not present Thursday.

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