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No vote planned for Right to Know bills for NYPD stops

Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said that compromise on

Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said that compromise on Right to Know legislation will keep New Yorkers safe while improving police interactions. Oct. 23, 2015 Credit: Craig Ruttle

The City Council will not vote on legislation that would have required NYPD officers to identify themselves via business card during stops and seek consent in otherwise unconstitutional searches, the council speaker’s office said Tuesday.

Instead, the council has struck a deal for the police department to handle the changes internally, the office said.

The two bills — together called the Right to Know Act — had strong support within the 51-member council, but they have languished since a committee hearing in June 2015. Mayor Bill de Blasio did not support the act as proposed and NYPD Commissioner William Bratton last summer labeled it “overkill.”

Over the course of the year, council and police representatives have been in talks, reaching an agreement on changes to procedures on conducting consent searches and using identification, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito’s office said.

The deal comes at a tense time for police-community relations after the police-involved deaths of black men in Louisiana and Minnesota and the fatal shootings of five officers in Dallas.

Mark-Viverito said the compromise will keep New Yorkers safe while improving police interactions.

“This agreement is about more than talk, it is about action,” the Democrat said in a statement. “These reforms serve as a model for how we can work collaboratively to achieve lasting change.”

But activists, including the group Communities United for Police Reform, and the mother of Eric Garner, the Staten Island man who died two years ago after an officer restrained him around his neck, said the bills must be passed into law.

“It’s clear that the NYPD will not reform itself and that its own administrative rules are routinely not followed without consequence, or else my son would be alive today,” Gwen Carr said.

The NYPD will in the next six to nine months train its officers on consent-to-search procedures and amend its patrol guide in part to require officers to ask for consent in a manner that solicits a clear “yes” or “no,” according to Mark-Viverito’s office.

The agency also will, within two to three months, require its officers to offer business cards in scenarios such as at checkpoint stops or after all consent searches, according to her office.

Monica Klein, a spokeswoman for de Blasio, said the mayor commended “a strong compromise that will not affect our officers’ ability to do their jobs or protect themselves while enhancing community relations.”

Bratton did not immediately comment on the deal.

With Anthony M. DeStefano

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