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Mayoral front-runners spar over stop-frisk

New York mayoral candidate Christine Quinn gives comments

New York mayoral candidate Christine Quinn gives comments after speaking at the American Diabetes Association Latino Health Festival in St. Mary's Park in the Bronx. (Aug. 17, 2013) Credit: Jeremy Bales

The three front-runners for mayor barnstormed the Bronx Saturday and bickered anew over whose plan would best reform the NYPD's stop-and-frisk policy.

Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and former comptroller Bill Thompson all fundamentally agree that the current way that city police stop, question and frisk New Yorkers is unconstitutional.

But with just 23 days until the Sept. 10 primary, and polls showing a three-way fight for two runoff spots, they are each claiming the best approach to end what they call abuses.

A federal judge last Monday ruled the current practice was unconstitutional "indirect racial profiling" and appointed a federal monitor to oversee changes. Mayor Michael Bloomberg is appealing the ruling.

The three candidates, all Democrats, say they would withdraw the appeal if elected.

"You know, we've had two approaches to policing in this city -- separate and unequal," de Blasio told a standing-room crowd of churchgoers at a Seventh Day Adventist church. "I'm the only candidate who says a hard truth about what we have to do."

De Blasio said he'd dump Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and supports an anti-racial profiling bill that Bloomberg has vetoed and Quinn opposed.

Quinn and de Blasio support a bill to install an inspector general over the department; Thompson opposes it.

And Quinn has added caveats to her declaration, made in May, that the next mayor "would be incredibly lucky" to retain Kelly as commissioner.

She now says Kelly would have to obey her orders to revamp stop-and-frisk.

"If Ray Kelly wants to be my police commissioner, then he will have to accept the order that all unconstitutional stops will have to come to an end immediately," she said. "That will be his choice."

Asked why Kelly, who ardently defends the policy, would want to work for a mayor who so strongly disagrees, Quinn said: "That's a decision for him to make."

She also said she hasn't discussed with Kelly whether he'd want to stay on. "You can't offer jobs you don't have," Quinn said. "It's a jinx."

Kelly declined to comment when asked at a East Hampton charity ballgame Saturday about Quinn's remarks.

Thompson said he'd give the NYPD new leadership and push reforms such as ending so-called performance goals for officers that, he says, result in too many dubious stops.

"You want to be able to have things move to a place where we wouldn't need a monitor anymore," he said.

With Mackenzie Issler

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