Public Safety Category Blog entries categorized under Public Safety http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/the-eye-opener/categories/listings/safety Wed, 23 Jul 2014 00:53:31 +0000 Joomla! 1.5 - Open Source Content Management en-gb Legendary Morgenthau Thinks City Council Shouldn't Rein In Stop-And-Frisk http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/the-eye-opener/entry/safety/2013/06/24/legendary-morgenthau-thinks-city-council-shouldnt-rein-in-stop-and-frisk http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/the-eye-opener/entry/safety/2013/06/24/legendary-morgenthau-thinks-city-council-shouldnt-rein-in-stop-and-frisk

NEW YORK — Legendary former Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau recalled yesterday how in the 1960s and 1970s police avoided making stops of potential suspects out of fear of retribution.

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"That's where we were," he said as he stood with Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly and a bevy of law enforcement leaders who had gathered at One Police Plaza. They had gathered to voice their opposition to a package of City Council bills aimed, in part, at reining in the New York Police Department's use of stop-and-frisk.

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Morgenthau, who was the city's top prosecutor for more than three decades until his retirement in 2009, praised the NYPD's record and said that, instead of pursuing the legislation, the Council should tackle what he called the disproportionate deaths of black men by gun violence.

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"What's the City Council going to do about that?" he asked. "If City Council wants to do something that's important, let see how they can reduce or propose a reduction of the murder of African American men."

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It was an argument that echoed defenses of stop-and-frisk put forth in the past by Bloomberg and Kelly.

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The mayor, for his part, said the bills would be a burden on the NYPD. "What we mustn’t have is what these laws would create: A police department pointlessly hampered by outside intrusion, and recklessly threatened by second-guessing from the courts," the mayor said.

The City Council bills had been stalled in the public safety committee, where the chair, Peter Vallone Jr., opposed it and refused to bring it to a vote. Using a seldom-used legislative procedure known as a "motion to discharge," the Council voted to circumvent the public safety committee today and the bills will now go to the floor for a vote.

The pair of bills aim to strengthen the city's racial profiling ban and create an inspector general to independently monitor the NYPD — potentially setting the ground to reshape police policy.

Brooklyn Councilman Jumaane Williams said New Yorkers who are disproportionally stopped and frisked or who are under police surveillance are already living in a 1960s-like reality as a result of racial profiling by the NYPD.

"We're making our communities trust police," Brooklyn Councilman Jumaane Williams, a co-sponsor of the bill, said, defending the legislation. "I've gone to my community and said we have to view them as community partners."

William's co-sponsor, Brooklyn Councilman Brad Lander, said the bills would improve public safety.

"The bills are simple," Lander said. "When we vote to discharge them today, when we vote to pass them on Wednesday, when we override Mayor Bloomberg's veto when it comes back to us — we will help makes sure that we have safer streets. We will make sure that people's rights are protested and respected. And we will restore the bonds of trust that are necessary for good policing in New York City."

On Monday, the motions to discharge by the sponsors of the Council legislation were met with bipartisan opposition from seven Council members: Queens Democrats Vallone, James Gennaro and Peter Koo joined with Queens Republican Eric Ulrich, as did Staten Island Republicans James Oddo and Vincent Ignizio. Brooklyn Democrats Lew Fidler and Mike Nelson voted against the discharges as well.

It was the first time in the seven-year tenure of Speaker Christine Quinn that a motion to discharge had been brought in the Council. Quinn is opposed to the racial profiling bill, but has said she would support the inspector general bill.

The bills now go to to a floor vote at a second City Council meeting currently scheduled for Wednesday afternoon. As of Monday afternoon, only the inspector general bill has a veto-majority of 35 co-sponsors secured.

The racial profiling bill only has 33 of the same 35 co-sponsors its sister legislation enjoys.

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Gotham Gazette intern Daniel Stein-Sayles contributed to this report.

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webmaster@gothamgazette.com (Administrator) Public Safety Mon, 24 Jun 2013 21:26:05 +0000
Brooklyn Councilman: Opposition To NYPD Bills 'Paternalistic' http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/the-eye-opener/entry/safety/2013/06/11/brooklyn-councilman-opposition-to-nypd-bills-paternalistic http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/the-eye-opener/entry/safety/2013/06/11/brooklyn-councilman-opposition-to-nypd-bills-paternalistic

Brooklyn City Councilman Jumaane Williams calls opposition to two bills that would increase oversight and regulation of the New York Police Department "paternalistic."

The bills to create an independent police department inspector general and expand the city's ban on racial profiling are expected to be introduced at tomorrow's Council meeting.

"What sometimes disturbs me is that the most vociferous people against these bills generally are not the ones that deal with gun violence in their district and are not the ones who deal with over-policing in their district," Williams said earlier today after unveiling the latest versions of the bills at City Hall. His district has already seen at least 27 shootings this year.

"I would wager a bet," Williams continued while punctuating his points by thumping his fist at the podium before him, "that I have been to more funerals of young black men than they have. That I have spoken to more mothers just minutes, hours, days after they've lost a young black or Latino male than they have."

Yesterday, Williams and fellow Brooklyn City Councilman Brad Lander, a co-sponsor, announced that they would bypass the chair of the Council's public safety committee in order to get the bills to the floor for a vote in the next few weeks.

The committee's chair, Queens Councilman Peter Vallone Jr., told the Gotham Gazette today that he opposes the racial profiling bill in particular, which builds upon legislation he helped write and pass in 2004.

"Virtually everyone in law enforcement is opposed to this bill," Vallone said. "And I can't think of anybody more affected by gun violence than law enforcement."

Vallone specifically questioned a part of the bill that would allow residents to sue police for biased profiling, a move that he said would put a hole in the city budget and take police officers off the streets.

"If anyone doesn't think massive costs will not lead to an increase in crime, well, they're absolutely naive," Vallone said, adding that there is no middle ground in a debate between police and those "without a single day of experience in law enforcement."

Lander said the bill only allows for declaratory releif in lawsuits, not monetary, and there's a high bar for plaintiffs to bring about a lawsuit.

"Let's be clear," Lander said during the presser, "the goal of this legislation is to make sure the NYPD does good policies that doesn't involve biased-based profiling. The standards of the law are clear, and if they simply use the clear test provided in the law, they'll easily be able to continue to implement permissible policies."

Lander added that he and Williams were confident that the City Council will have secured veto-proof majorities by the time the bill goes to a vote. Bloomberg has committed to vetoing both bills, which Lander expects will happen before August.

Over the last few months, Bloomberg has used both bills as a measure of his replacement's commitment to public safety, making them a central point of debate in many mayoral forums.

Democratic frontrunner and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn has committed to the inspector general bill, but not to the profiling legislation. Still, she's willing to let the bill go to a vote.

Besides Quinn, only Public Advocate Bill de Blasio is supportive of both bills. Former comptroller Bill Thompson and former Congressman Anthony Weiner have argued that they would be unnecessary under their administrations.

Sitting Comptroller John Liu often describes stop-and-frisk as institutionalized profiling. Like like Thompson and Weiner, he dismisses the need for a monitor under his leadership. All the Republican candidates support NYPD's stop-and-frisk.

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webmaster@gothamgazette.com (Administrator) Public Safety Tue, 11 Jun 2013 20:21:36 +0000
Quinn Aims For Middle Ground In Public Safety Speech http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/the-eye-opener/entry/safety/2013/04/24/quinn-aims-for-middle-ground-in-public-safety-speech http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/the-eye-opener/entry/safety/2013/04/24/quinn-aims-for-middle-ground-in-public-safety-speech New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn wants the police department to be bigger than it is under Mayor Michael Bloomberg — and to better relate with the people that it protects.

The Democratic candidate for mayor defended most of Bloomberg's current policing strategy anc called for an additional 1,600 uniformed officers, but tried to reach a middle ground on the city's stop, question and frisk policy.

While she reiterated her support for an independent police monitor to oversee the department, Quinn distanced herself from a proposed law that would expand the city's law against racial profiling.

"We need to sustain the progress we've made over the past 12 years, fix what hasn't worked and build a stronger bond between police and the communities they serve," she said.

Quinn also defended Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, who Quinn has previously lauded despite disagreement on the stop-and-frisk policy. She called his work "incredible" and said that anyone who fails to recognize his work "is simply out of touch with the reality of life in New York City."

Kelly and Bloomberg have both come out against a City Council proposal to create an indepdnent inspector general. Both the commissioner and the mayor argue that the NYPD has sufficient oversight, including the Civilain Complaint Review Board and the department's Internal Affairs Bureau. Quinn nonethless celebrated Kelly's time with the force.

"Our city would be incredibly lucky to have him continue on as commissioner," she said.

To continue making progress, Quinn said that the police needs to hire more officers. She prosposed that the city hire 1,600 additional police officers, and that the department accelerate its hiring of 500 new officers who are scheduled to start in January.

Quinn would instead have those new officers begin in June, and said that a speedier increase in police hires would not be a financial burden for the department. The additional cost, she said, would be offset by, among other things, the lower wages given to new recruits as opposed to senior officers on the verge of retirement.

Quinn credited Kelly for a number of things, including what she called strides in community relations since former Mayor Rudy Giuliani's tenure. She also praised the increased number of minority officers and the department's "direct community engagement."

Calling stop-and-frisk an "important tool" for police, Quinn said she doesn't want to ban the policy. Instead, she wants the NYPD to better train its officers and build better working relationships with community members to mend the rift between the two.

"A safe city and a city where people in every community feel like they’re being treated with respect are not mutually exclusive goals," she said. "We can have both."

She repeated her support for the independent monitor legislation, one of four bills in the propsoed Community Safety Act. Unlike previous statements about the act, however, Quinn came out against one of the bills that would enforce the city's law against racial profiling.

She cautioned that the bill is redundant of existing checks put in place against racial profiling. Quinn said New Yorkers can already work file grievances with the CCRB and lawsuits through the federal courts.

"I believe this presents a real risk that a multitude of state court judges issue rulings that could take control of police policy decisions away from the mayor and commissioner," Quinn said, repeating a line often used against her support of the inspector general bill. "This could overlap and possibly conflict with rulings coming out of the federal courts, and could occur before the proposed oversight through DOI has had a chance to be fully implemented."

The Community Safety Act's lead sponsors, who have worked with Quinn on the inspector general bill, both admonished the speaker for her lack of support for the racial profiling bill. Brooklyn Councilmen Jumaane Williams and Brad Lander jointly stated that recent lawsuits against stop-and-frisk prove that profiling is happening despite existing law.

"We cannot keep our communities safe by profiling our neighbors based on their race, religion, LGBT, or other status," they wrote in response to Quinn's speech. "It violates fundamental civil liberties, breaks down the bonds of trust necessary for good policing, sets New Yorkers against each other and has never been proven to work."

The bill in question, Intro 800-A, has already been amended since it was first introduced last year. The latest language would not allow plaintiffs to seek monetary damages, adopt the city Human Rights Law's definition of profiling and protect supervisors from legal action.

Quinn is expected to join her fellow Democratic mayoral candidates for a larger forum on public safety tonight at John Jay College for Criminal Justice to be aired on NY1.

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webmaster@gothamgazette.com (Administrator) Public Safety Wed, 24 Apr 2013 20:49:48 +0000
Cuomo on Background Check Defeat: "Sad Statement on Power of Extremists" http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/the-eye-opener/entry/safety/2013/04/17/cuomo-on-background-check-defeat-qsad-statement-on-power-of-extremistsq- http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/the-eye-opener/entry/safety/2013/04/17/cuomo-on-background-check-defeat-qsad-statement-on-power-of-extremistsq-

The Senate’s failure to pass a bipartisan measure that is supported by the vast majority of American people is a sad statement on the power of extremists to stand in the way of reason and common sense. Background checks for firearm sales is a reasonable measure that would help keep guns out of the hands of criminals and help keep Americans safe from gun violence. In the wake of the seemingly unending cycle of tragedy involving gun violence, the Senate’s inability to pass even a watered down, minimal gun safety bill is simply unacceptable.

Cuomo was able to jam through a package of gun control measures in New York that have been sharply criticized by opponents as knee-jerk. Cuomo has seen his poll numbers drop with Republicans in the state but he has continued to trumpet his ability to pass the legislation as Washington has failed to act. Now Cuomo can point to an actual vote as the Senate failed to pass a measure that would enact background checks for private firearm sales on at gun shows and on the Internet.

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dking@gothamgazette.com (David Howard King) Public Safety Wed, 17 Apr 2013 22:00:27 +0000
NY Politicians React To Senate Inaction On Background Checks For Gun Sales http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/the-eye-opener/entry/safety/2013/04/17/ny-politicians-react-to-senate-inaction-on-background-checks-for-gun-sales http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/the-eye-opener/entry/safety/2013/04/17/ny-politicians-react-to-senate-inaction-on-background-checks-for-gun-sales New York politicians are criticizing the U.S. Senate for its inability to pass a measure that would have required background checks for private sales of firearms at gun shows and on the Internet.

“The failure to pass even the most basic measures to expand background checks for gun sales, despite near-universal support from the American people, is a disgrace," state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a statement today.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg called the Senate vote a "damning indictment":

Today’s vote is a damning indictment of the stranglehold that special interests have on Washington. More than 40 U.S. senators would rather turn their backs on the 90 percent of Americans who support comprehensive background checks than buck the increasingly extremist wing of the gun lobby. Democrats – who are so quick to blame Republicans for our broken gun laws – could not stand united. And Republicans – who are so quick to blame Democrats for not being tough enough on crime – handed criminals a huge victory, by preserving their ability to buy guns illegally at gun shows and online and keeping the illegal trafficking market well-fed. Senators Manchin and Toomey – as well as Majority Leader Reid and Senators Schumer, Kirk, Collins, McCain and others – deserve real credit for coming together around a compromise bill that struck a fair balance, and President Obama and Vice-President Biden deserve credit for their leadership since the Sandy Hook massacre. But even with some bi-partisan support, a common-sense public safety reform died in the U.S. Senate at the hands of those who are more interested in attempting to protect their own political careers – or some false sense of ideological purity – than protecting the lives of innocent Americans. The only silver lining is that we now know who refuses to stand with the 90 percent of Americans – and in 2014, our ever-expanding coalition of supporters will work to make sure that voters don’t forget.

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dking@gothamgazette.com (David Howard King) Public Safety Wed, 17 Apr 2013 20:48:24 +0000