RT, June 28, 2013
The city of New York has passed two measures meant to rein in NYPD’s stop-and-frisk program by expanding the definition of racial profiling and enacting a seven-year departmental audit program. Mayor Bloomberg has vowed to veto both.
The New York City Council is seeking to create an independent inspector general with the sole purpose of monitoring the New York Police Department for seven years going forward. Such an inspector would also be charged wtih proposing recommendations on how to improve the department’s operation.
In addition, the council will expand the definition of racial profiling, thus allowing residents who believe they have been a target to sue in state court.
According to Reuters, shortly after the vote Bloomberg promised to veto both measures and force the council to hold another vote to override his veto. Each of the measures passed through the 51-member council with at least 34 votes, which suggests they should have the necessary two-thirds majority to override Bloomberg’s veto.
Both the mayor and New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly have defended stop-and-frisk, which a federal judge decided was unconstitutional in January 2013, despite criticism of racial profiling, arguing that the frequency in stops attributed to minority neighborhoods are linked to higher crime rates in those city regions.
An analysis by the New York Public Advocate’s office of data provided by the NYPD for 2012 has shown that the likelihood that an African American detained for search would be found in possession of a weapon was half that of a white person.
Data shows that the NYPD uncovered a weapon in one out of every 49 stops of white New Yorkers, while for latinos a weapon was found for one out of every 71 stops, and for African Americans, in one out of 93 stops.
Mayor Bloomberg, like his predecessor Rudi Giuliani, has made combating crime a centerpiece of his three terms in office. Since Bloomberg took office in 2002 city data indicates a steady decline in major felony offenses overall, which include murder (including non-negligent manslaughter), rape, robbery, felony assault and burglary. The number of robberies in 2002, for example, were reported to be 27,229, and had dropped to 20,144 by 2012.
The particularly low murder rates for a city the size of New York have been used by mayor Bloomberg and NYPD commissioner Kelly as indications that controversial and unconstitutional police tactics are effective. Still, according to 2012 FBI crime statistics, the city falls somewhere in the middle for all violent offenses–“violent” crime defined as rape, robbery and assault in addition to murder.
In June the Obama administration made waves by extending its support for a monitor to oversee the NYPD’s use of stop-and-frisk. Bloomberg was quick to slam the administration’s move.
“We think that a monitor would be even more disruptive than an IG (inspector general),” Bloomberg said at the time.
“It just makes no sense whatsoever, when lives are on the line, to try to change the rules and hamper the police department from doing their job,” he added. According to the mayor, similar oversight efforts in Philadelphia have hampered efforts to combat crime.