Bloomberg furious over NYPD criticisms

CYRIL JOSH BARKER Amsterdam News Staff | 6/18/2013, 10:51 a.m.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg let off steam this week over political power and various groups' criticisms,...
Michael R. Bloomberg (Bebeto Matthews/AP Photo)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg let off steam this week over political power and various groups' criticisms, pointing out that the NYPD's practices are an asset to the city.

At a press conference at police headquarters in Lower Manhattan, Bloomberg stated that Commissioner Ray Kelly is the right person to lead the department and said the city is safer from terrorism and criminal activity on the streets.

Bloomberg doled out numbers and crime statistics complimenting the NYPD, including a 32 percent drop in the murder rate and shootings being down 22 percent compared to last year.

"Not only are you saving all those lives by preventing those murders, you're also keeping young people from going to jail and to prison," Bloomberg said. "Unlike in the rest of the country, where incarceration levels are going up, here in New York City, we've cut crime not by locking more people up, but by locking fewer people up. Compared to 2001, the number of people behind bars today is 31 percent lower."

The mayor then lashed out at those opposed to the NYPD's tactics. He pointed out current city elections as a motivation for the criticism. The NYPD has come under fire from several City Council members and groups for its stop-and-frisk practice. A trial is currently underway to reform the tactic.

"The attacks most often come from those who play no constructive role in keeping our city safe, but rather view their jobs as pointing fingers from the steps of City Hall. Some of them scream that they know better than you how to run the department. Some have even sued the NYPD and demanded a federal monitor over NYPD operations," the mayor said.

He added that critics of stop-and-frisk "could not be more wrong" about officers targeting people based on race and ethnicity. Bloomberg also criticized the City Council's efforts to install an inspector general, saying it would conflict with anti-terrorism efforts.

"Passing any legislation that undermines our counterterrorism capabilities would be the height of irresponsibility," he said. "God forbid terrorists succeed in striking our city because of a politically driven law that undermines the NYPD's intelligence gathering efforts."

Those who have worked tirelessly over the last several years to combat the NYPD's practices wasted no time in firing back. Brooklyn City Councilman Jumaane Williams, who is sponsoring the Community Safety Act that would reform NYPD tactics, said that citizens are still waiting to hear about Bloomberg's public safety solutions.

"Mayor Bloomberg did not offer New Yorkers a speech on public safety today. Instead, he gave us a glimpse into a room full of senior NYPD brass, entrenched in his skewed reality of policing and unreflective of the communities most affected by his policies," he said. "What the mayor offered New Yorkers today was a pep rally for his failing proposition that our city has to choose between better policing and safer streets, between saving lives and protecting our constitutional rights. New Yorkers--civilians and police officers alike--know better."

Joo-Hyun Kang, a spokesperson for Communities United for Police Reform, said people are standing up to the abusive practices of the NYPD. The organization is a strong supporter of the current federal trial combating stop-and-frisk.

"Mayor Bloomberg is woefully out-of-touch with New Yorkers who are overwhelmingly demanding reforms at the same time as community safety," she said. "The council should pass these common sense Community Safety Act bills to ban discriminatory profiling and establish effective oversight for the NYPD, and Bloomberg should cease with his dangerous scare tactics. New Yorkers want to hear more of Bloomberg's empty, tired rhetoric as much as they want him to lift term limits again and run for a fourth term."