The Community Safety Act Puts Mayoral Candidates' NYPD Views on Display
Two weeks ago, the Voice reported that the NYPD had committed its 5 millionth stop-and-frisk. Then, a few days later, hearings began downtown on Floyd v. New York, which challenges the practice all together (follow fellow Voice scribe Graham Rayman's coverage here).
And, for the sake of political timeliness, a bill titled the Community Safety Act is making its way through the City Council. This bundle of legislation includes a part that would staff the NYPD with an Inspector General for oversight, given the recent flare of scandal for the boys in blue. Essentially, it would create cops for the cops.
The bill recently picked up support from City Council Speaker Christine Quinn. But Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and Mayor Bloomberg are not at all down with such a measure, arguing that it will stall normal procedures by adding another layer of bureaucracy. As a result, the act has already been labeled "controversial," laying the path to a showdown that will involve all of those running for the coveted throne in City Hall.
Let the mayoral candidates sign off themselves.
As we know, Quinn and Public Advocate Bill de Blasio are the highest figures in the race fighting for this thing to pass.
However, Ms. Quinn has made it clear that she supports Kelly's actions, and would not mind if he stayed in his position for another term. However, she is on the fence about stop-and-frisk. She has called for reform of the practice, but with stop-and-frisk, the question is not about its reform, but its elimination.
Earlier on in the race, Comptroller John Liu had mentioned that he would be in support of an Inspector General for the NYPD. Since then, he's flip-flopped, and now he's joined Kelly and Bloomberg in arguing that oversight will cause unnecessary delay.
But Liu is the only candidate who has made one position clear: Stop-and-frisk must be struck from NYPD policy books immediately. (de Blasio has inched toward this stance as well, but his campaign has yet to release a clear platform on the issue.)
Practically all of the Republican candidates side with the commissioner and the mayor. That makes sense, though--law-and-order conservatism, Giuliani/Bloomberg's legacy, yada yada yada. As of now, former Deputy Mayor Joe Lhota and billionaire grocer John Catsimatidis oppose the Community Safety Act. And whether we should stop stopping and frisking millions of people or not isn't even a question for them.
As we've said before, here are your candidates, New York. You have a few months to choose wisely.