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Testifying at a hearing on the city’s new emergency 911 system, a top official of Mayor Michael Bloomberg's administration promised a "full investigation" into what caused a delay in responding to a request for help for a girl who died after she was struck by a car.
Deputy Mayor Cas Holloway extended his condolence to the family of the girl and promised the full review as he testified for over three hours at a City Council hearing Friday, where he declared that the $88 million 911 system’s "technology worked."
The parents of 4-year-old Ariel Russo, the girl in question, attended the hearing. Her mother spoke to the press afterwards.
"There is only so much that we, the people of New York City, can actually do without the commitment of elected officials," said Sophia Russo, Ariel's mother. "I call on all New Yorkers to write and call our mayor and members of the City Council, imploring them to fix two major issues here. The first is, we need a law passed which prohibits high-speed police chases in school zones. Second and most importantly, we need to demand that this 911 system be fixed."
Her family has filed a notice of claim against the city and has hired attorney Sanford Rubenstein to represent them.
A union representing police detectives opposes legislation that would create an independent monitor to oversee the New York Police Department.
But their opposition to the proposal hasn’t stopped the union from endorsing Democrat Bill Thompson for mayor — who has said he supports the idea.
Michael Palladino, chief of the Detectives' Endowment Association, was asked by a reporter yesterday at a rally for Thompson whether the candidate’s support of the inspector general legislation weighed into the union’s decision to endorse him. “Obviously it didn’t,” Palladino replied.
Palladino is also the chairman of the Uniformed Workers of New York, which held the campaign rally to show their support for Thompson.
Thompson reiterated his support of the proposal for an independent police inspector general, as well as a modified form of stop-and-frisk.
In his third press conference on the subject in recent weeks, Mayor Michael Bloomberg will speak to leadership from the New York Police Department on public safety today.
Bloomberg's speech follows last week's address from City Council Speaker and Democratic mayoral candidate Christine Quinn's speech on the same subject.
Bloomberg has now held multiple press conferences with NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly on the heels of Boston marathon attacks, often discussing increased surveillance and opposition to what he calls "special interests" looking to change the Police Department's current practices.
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."
The New York Police Department is taking additional security precautions for at least two public events this weekend following the attack at the Boston Marathon.
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said that there have been no specific threats to New York City, but that the city remains vigilant in the wake of yesterday's bombing of the annual running event in Boston.
Kelly said the NYPD was reviewing security plans for a 5K Run/Walk and family day for the 9/11 memorial and a four-mile race in Central Park for the City Parks Foundation.
"We are certainly evaluating, or reevaluating them, in light of the event that took place yesterday," he said at a press conference with Mayor Michael Bloomberg at City Hall today. The Boston flag was at half-mast in front of City Hall in remembrance of the victims of the attack.
"We are vigilant, but we are vigilant for a good cause," Kelly said.
The nation's highest court stayed above the fray of the gun control debate after it declined to hear appeals from New York State gun owners.
The court didn't comment on the case, Kachalsky v. Cacace, which came about as a result of the state's concealed-and-carry laws. Five Westchester County residents had their applications for unrestricted concealed permits rejected after the clerk's office said that they had failed to show a need for self-protection outside of their home.
New York State penal law allows local authorities to grant concealed handgun permits at their own discretion.
The Kachalsky case is unrelated to the package of gun control reform legislation that Gov. Andrew Cuomo in January, parts of which come into effect today — including the ban on magazines for semi-automatic guns used for home protection that have more than seven bullets. The New York Post reported that the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association will file for a preliminary injunction against the Cuomo-backed law with the US District Court.
Concealed handgun permits remain central to the ongoing debate in Washington D.C. as Congress mulls over the latest bipartisan gun control proposal. Sen. Chuck Schumer has already spoken out strongly against one amendment proposed in the compromise that would force New York to recognize permitted gun owners from across state lines.
Republican mayoral candidate Joe Lhota says City Council Speaker Christine Quinn's support for an independent police monitor is "reckless," "dangerous" and "redundant."
Lhota made the comments about Quinn, a Democrat who is also seeking to be mayor, from a prepared text while standing next to a super-sized printout of New York Police Department CompStat numbers.
"The police department needs to maintain a laser-like focus in the reduction of crime," Lhota said. "We can't allow reckless behavior like putting a handcuff on the police department, which is what the inspector general bill will do."
A supporter of NYPD's stop-and-frisk program, Lhota said that he would expect the NYPD to regularly train officers on how to use what he described as a constitutional practice.
The candidate praised Mayor Michael Bloomberg and NYPD Commisioner Ray Kelly for their leadership on crime reduction, but also pointed to a spike in felony crimes between 2011 and 2012, which he highlighted on the board next to him. Lhota argued that public safety in the city is in too fragile a state to consider putting in place another level of bureaucracy on the police department.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the introduction of any legislation that would create an inspector general to independently monitor the NYPD will set a dangerous precedent for the city.
He said the plan is a political play during an election year that would create redundant bureaucracy.
"Together, the mayor and the commissioner set the direction of the department — and they do not need an unelected and unaccountable official to supervise their policy decisions," Bloomberg said. "The bill being considered by the City Council would undermine the accountability that has been essential in the department’s success — and make our city less safe."
Council Speaker Christine Quinn, one of the leading Democratic candidates for mayor who yesterday announced she would support a measure to create an inspector general for the NYPD, told reporters at City Hall that it was unfortunate the mayor disagrees with the bill. But she said she expects the bill to pass with overwhelming support as soon as it's introduced. She said she would push back against a mayoral veto.
"I can guarantee we will override it," she said.
Community organizers and religious leaders from various faiths came together in front of City Hall to mark International Human Rights Day by calling for increased oversight of the New York Police Department. Advocates say that the use of controversial police practices such as stop-and-frisk and monitoring of Muslims demonstrate the need to reform public safety in communities of color. They have called for the passage of a package of legislation called the Community Safety Act that includes a measure that would create a new inspector general to oversee the NYPD who would make recommendations about policy. The police have said that their tactics make the city safer. Mayor Michael M. Bloomberg is firmly opposed to the Community Safety Act. â€śThe Muslim community is under siege,â€ť said Imam Ayub Abdul-Baki, of the Islamic Leadership Council of Metropolitan New York, at todayâ€™s rally. â€śWe are insecure about dealing with police officers in our community ... We are not sure if they are protecting or victimizing us.â€ť Faizah N. Ali, a 27-year-old coordinator for civic engagement from the Arab American Association of New York, said she became motivated to work on police accountability after news reports last year that the NYPD was monitoring Muslims. â€śIn a democratic society, part of our job is to hold our leaders accountable,â€ť she said.Ali explained that the unity among the various religious and ethnic groups at City Hall was part of an effort to emphasize the need for social justice in police practices. â€śWe are a set of diverse New Yorkers looking for the police to treat everyone with dignity and respect," she said.
Image courtesy eyewashdesign: A. Golden, used under Creative Commons license.
Today's Lead Stories...
Partial Transit Restored, Free Rides
Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a traffic emergency for today and Friday making mass transit free for those using the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's busses and trains. "The service in many cases is limited, the service in many cases will be crowded," Cuomo said at a late night press conference in the city. The move came afterimmense gridlock Wednesday. City busses were jammed with commuters and gas lines stretched for over half a mile. Commuters who wish to drive into the city will have to car pool. The entire transportation infrastructure has yet to be restored with flooding still impeding some routes but partial service has been restored. Check out the MTA's post-storm stubway map.
In the Press...
Crime in New York City is going up in all categories except homicide, Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. told the Queens Campaigner in an interview published today.
â€śIâ€™ve been warning that this crime increase would occur,â€ť said the chair of the Council's public safety committee.
He indicated that the size of the police force could be linked to the uptick in crime, telling reporter Rebecca Henley that the "Safe Cities, Safe Streets" program in the early 1990s increased the number of police officers in the city from 31,000 to 41,000. But now he said that number is less than 35,000.
Vallone also defended stop-and-frisk, saying the police tactic had successfully gotten 800 firearms off the streets.
â€śI think theyâ€™re making an effort to do things the right way,â€ť he said of the New York Police Department.