Late last night the New York City Council passed two bills that will reign in an out of control NYPD and Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Passed with veto-proof majorities, the pair of bills aim at increasing oversight of the Police Department and expanding New Yorkers’ ability to sue over racial profiling by officers.
One, known as Intro 1079, would create an independent inspector general to monitor and review police policy, conduct investigations and recommend changes to the department. The monitor would be part of the city’s Investigation Department alongside the inspectors general for other city agencies.
The law would go into effect Jan. 1, 2014, leaving the matter of choosing the monitor to the next mayor.
The other bill, Intro 1080, would expand the definition of bias-based profiling to include age, gender, housing status and sexual orientation. It also would allow individuals to sue the Police Department in state court – not only for individual instances of bias, but also for policies that disproportionately affect people in any protected categories without serving a significant law enforcement goal.
Mayor Bloomberg is expected to veto both bills. The council has 30 days from its next full meeting to hold an override vote.
Queens councilman Pete Vallone (D), who voted against the bill, gave a preview of the over the top rhetoric that will be used to convince New Yorkers to tell their council members to not override the mayor’s veto:
“New Yorkers went to bed a long time ago, safe in their beds,” Vallone said after the vote. “But they are going to wake up in a much more dangerous city.”
The Mayor and Police Commissioner Raymaond Kelley have already played the Al Qaeda and “be afraid” cards
“Every tort lawyer is gonna buy a new house and a new car right away,” Bloomberg said. “They’re not even gonna have to wait for the cases to come in.” Kelly added, “City council might as well have named the legislation, the ‘Full Employment for Plaintiffs Attorneys Act’…Take heart Al Qaeda wannabes.” [..]
“This is not a game, this is a life-threatening thing…This is life and death, this isn’t playing some game…It’s very nice to have a lawyer and everybody after say you should have done this and you should have done that, but when the other guy maybe has a gun in his pocket, that’s a different story.”
The most laughable moment in that press conference came from Mayor Bloomberg when asked if there is an independent body who oversees NYPD policy like an Inspector General would:
Yes there is. It’s called the Mayor…The police commissioner in our city works for the mayor serves at the pleasure of the mayor, and I can just tell you I’m not a professional in this but I have every single policy that this police department has the police commissioner has explained to me, kept me posted on it and when I talk to other experts, I’m convinced that they are the exactly the right thing.
Councilman Jumaane Williams (D-Brooklyn) urged people to listen carefully:
“There have been a lot of bald-faced lies told about this bill,” [..]
“We can have safety and can have police accountability at the exact same time,” he said. “If you don’t live there, if you haven’t been going through it … please side with us.”
Michael Bloomberg has turned the NYC Police Department into his own private army, which was witnessed in the crack down on Occupy Wall St.’s peaceful demonstrations and occupation of Zuccotti Park. It’s long past time that City Council acted taking back the NYPD for the people.