NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Law enforcement officials and civil rights advocates held dueling news conferences Monday over two measures up for a vote in the New York City Council.
One of the proposals would make it easier for those who feel they’ve been racially profiled to sue the NYPD; the other measure would establish an independent inspector general to oversee the department.
City Councilman Brad Lander said the two measures would end discrimination by police officers in black and Latino communities.
“We can and we must and we will keep New Yorkers safe without profiling our neighbors for aggressive policing based on their race or their religion or their sexual orientation,” Lander said at a news conference on the steps of City Hall Monday.
Other members of the council and the New York Civil Liberties Union also rallied in favor of the proposals.
“New Yorkers deserve a police department that deals with people based on how they behave, not the color of their skin or their gender,” Donna Lieberman with NYCLU said.
The call for an inspector general gained traction when the NYPD’s controversial stop-and-frisk policy went on trial to determine if the practice is discriminatory. City Council Speaker and mayoral hopeful Christine Quinn led the charge to bring that measure up for a vote.
Quinn’s Democratic challenger New York City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio also supports an inspector general to oversee the NYPD, while fellow mayoral hopeful John Liu stands opposed to the proposal.
Down the street at police headquarters, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, police union chiefs and the district attorneys of Queens and Staten Island joined Mayor Michael Bloomberg in speaking out against the proposed measures.
“We think these are both ill-considered bills which would put the public and our police officers in real serious danger and could reverse the striking, dramatic and wonderful reduction in crime that this city has experienced over the last 10 years or 20 years,” said Bloomberg.
“One of the ways will be by tying police officers up in endless depositions when they should be on patrol,” he said.
Kelly also cautioned that the bill could pave the way for frivolous lawsuits, CBS 2’s Dick Brennan reported.
“The legislation would generate so many frivolous lawsuits that it’s sponsor may well have called it the full employment for plaintiff attorneys act,” he said.
Bloomberg has promised to veto both measures if they reach his desk.
“We’d become a laughing-stock of the country and the world if we had something that really worked and we turned it around. And what are you going to say at the next eulogy you have to give after these bills are passed — when the family is 100 percent convinced that had you not passed this bill that their child would still be alive.”
Former Manhattan DA Robert Morgenthau added the bill would be a disaster for the city. The Council could vote on both bills as early as Wednesday.
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