Mayor Warns 'Stop Playing Politics With Public Safety'

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork)Mayor Michael Bloomberg again defended the controversial stop-and-frisk program, as the lawsuit over the practice continued in court Tuesday.

In an address to the NYPD’s top brass at police headquarters, Bloomberg staunchly defended the practice of Stop, Question and Frisk and offered a stinging criticism of legislation to curtail it.

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“If the bills pass, they will make our city less safe and innocent people will [pay] a terrible price. My message is simple: stop playing politics with public safety. Look at what’s happened in Boston, remember what happened here on 9/11,” said the mayor.

One of the measures on the table would create an inspector general to oversee the NYPD and the other would allow those who feel they were wrongly stopped to sue the department.

“Do we want police officers not to make a stop for fear of triggering a lawsuit? I don’t – and I don’t think other New Yorkers do either. Do we want police officers to spend their days testifying in court, instead of being out on the street preventing crime and catching criminals? I don’t – and I don’t think other New Yorkers do either. Do we want New York State judges to have the opportunity to micro-manage the NYPD? I sure don’t – and I don’t think other New Yorkers do either,” Bloomberg said.

Several of the candidates seeking to replace Mayor Bloomberg have criticized the controversial stop-and-frisk program. Bloomberg accused them of putting ideology and election-year politics ahead of public safety.

The mayor said the tactic has helped keep New Yorkers safe.

“The question is not whether the NYPD can continue driving crime to new record lows. The question is whether elected officials and special interest groups will allow you to,” said Bloomberg.

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Meantime, the lawsuit over stop-and-frisk, now in its seventh week, continued in Manhattan Federal Court.

Inspector Kenneth Lehr, commanding officer of the 67th precinct in Brooklyn, which is one of the busiest in the city, testified that he does not hear complaints from the public about stops by police being racially motivated.

He pointed out that the population in the 67th precinct is 90 percent black and 7 percent Hispanic so it is logical that police stops would reflect those numbers.

Lehr testified that what does bother him is the fact that only three and a half percent of those Stop, Question and Frisk encounters lead to arrests.

That figure is much lower than the average of 10 percent stop to arrest ratio, WCBS 880’s Irene Cornell reported.

Lehr testified that it raises a concern that officers are making stops without reasonable suspicion.

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