Jumaane Williams Responds to Kelly
March 16th, 2012
City Councilman Jumaane Williams has responded to† NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly’s contentious appearance before the Council yesterday. Williams specifically addresses Kelly’s insistence that council members haven’t offered any alternatives to the stop and frisk programs they say harass their communities.
“What my colleagues, members of the media and observers witnessed yesterday was a NYPD Commissioner on the defensive, forced to defend the fiscal and environmental consequences of unjust policing practices like the department’s use of stop, question and frisk,” said Williams in a statement. “Faced with the legitimate concerns of council members, unfavorable polling data and statistics from his own department which call their policies into serious question, Commissioner Kelly alleged that there is no leadership coming from my colleagues or I on reducing violence in communities of more color.
As co-chair of the Task Force to Combat Gun Violence, which I and others had championed before its implementation, I find this laughable. No one is more committed to reducing violence in communities of more color than the members of those communities. We work closely with our local precincts, clergy councils and block associations to advocate for the best police coverage of our streets; by the way, that effort is hampered by a greater focus on overtime pay over hiring more patrolmen, an approach several of my colleagues called into question yesterday. It is a false choice to have to decide between tackling gun violence and responding to improper policing that threatens basic civil liberties. In fact, dealing with both results in building better police-community relations, which are the bedrock of effective cooperation and safer streets. This is in direct contrast with the Commissioner’s stop, question and frisk policy, which he has failed to effectively prove correlates with shootings and homicides in our highest-risk precincts, based on his department’s own statistics.
That is real leadership, something Commissioner Kelly has failed to demonstrate on this crucial issue. Real leadership would be standing up and admitting that’s there more than concern over stop, question and frisk, but that there’s a serious problem. Real leadership would be meeting with young black and Latino New Yorkers and listening to their concerns. Real leadership would be advancing gun buyback programs, rather than deriding it as some sort of ‘chicken soup'; just one bowlful in my district last November produced more than 10% of all the guns recovered by almost 700,000 stop, question and frisks last year. Real leadership would be de-emphasizing quotas, or ‘productivity goals’, and re-emphasizing good police work. Real leadership would be actually speaking with other city agencies like the Department for Youth and Community Development to discuss the relationship between violent crime and youth development; gun violence is a epidemic with multiple symptoms such as chronic poverty and underfunded youth services, and not addressing all of those symptoms in concert is senseless.
In the absence of Commissioner Kelly’s real leadership, my colleagues and I will continue to pursue meaningful reform that brings about safer streets for all New Yorkers, as opposed to discriminatory and lazy policing.”By David King on March 16, 2012, 3:28 pm
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