At approximately 2:30 a.m. on Thursday morning, the New York City Council passed two bills, NYPD Oversight Act (Intro 1079) and End NYPD Discriminatory Profiling Bill (Intro 1080), known together as the Community Safety Act. These bills work to reduce racial profiling and oversight of the NYPD. Although the bills have received much scrutiny from Mayor Bloomberg, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, and the Detective Endowment Association (DEA), the 51-member City Council passed the bills with enough votes in favor to override Bloomberg’s expected veto.
The NYPD Oversight Act will publish police reports to the public and assign a Commissioner within the Department of Investigation to oversee and inspect the New York Police Department (NYPD). Department of Investigation currently oversees about 300 agencies including the Fire Department, The Department of Education, and Human Resources Administration.
The End NYPD Discriminatory Profiling Act makes it easier for New Yorkers to sue the NYPD if they have been racially profiled or discriminated by race, ethnicity, religion and national origin, gender, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, immigration status, and/or disability and housing status.
According to the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU), 89% of New Yorkers who were stopped and frisked by the NYPD last year were innocent and 87% were either Black or Latino, while a mere 10% were white. With the passing of this act, these clearly racially-biased arrests could more easily lead to lawsuits.
“The Mayor tried to scare this city into turning its back on fundamental civil liberties. We have been told the overuse and misuse of stop-and-frisk is the only path to safety. With the passage of these bills, we rejected that false choice and laid the foundation for a restored trust between police and the communities they serve,” stated New York City Public Advocate, Bill de Blasio.
“This marks a vital step toward rebuilding trust between police and the people they protect.” de Blasio continued, confirming his support of the bill.
The National Association of Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) also applauded the passing of the bill and marked it as a necessary step needed in New York City.
“The Council acted to restore sanity and safety to the streets of New York City and the lives of hundreds and thousands of young people,” NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous stated.
According to a press release, Hazel N. Dukes, President of the NAACP New York State Conference agreed.
“Today marks a great victory for the City of New York and in the fight to end abusive and discriminatory practices by the new York Police Department […] We thank the City Council for courageously standing up for the civil and human rights of the people of this great city,” the press release read.
Bloomberg has 30 days to veto the law and he is expected to do so.
In a statement released earlier, Bloomberg explained that there was a record-low number of murders and shootings in New York City, and that this legislation will hinder those efforts.
“We have demonstrated why these bills are bad for public safety, and I will veto this harmful legislation and continue to make our case to Council Members over the coming days and weeks,” the New York mayor said.
Other organizations have openly voiced their opposition to the Community Safety Act. The Detectives Endowment Association (DEA), which represents more than 16,000 active and retired cops, has already made threats to Council members who support the bill.
“Any legislator who supports an irresponsible bill like this is not worthy of the political support of men and woman who risk their lives behind the gold shield,” said Michael Palladino, president of the DEA to the New York Post.
“This issue is larger than politics. Therefore the DEA will revoke the endorsement of any and all city council members who support this measure,” Palladino continued.
As of June 12, 2013 the DEA has endorsed New York City Comptroller, Bill Thompson, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, NYC Public Advocate Candidate Dr. Cathy Guerriero, and New York City Council Member Peter Vallone Jr. Vallone. Vallone is not a supporter of the bill and it is not clear yet whether the other endorsed city officials support it or not.
However Williams, who set forth the bill with Speaker of the City Council and New York City Mayoral Candidate Christine Quinn, remains optimistic.
“We won and I’m looking forward to the next level,” Williams stated. “The mayor will veto the bill and we will override the veto because we have the veto majority,” he added.