NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The New York City Council has been determined to reform the NYPD, but the murder of two officers last month — and the shooting of two more this week — have created deep divisions about how to do it.
As CBS2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer reported, dozens of City Council members were wearing blue ribbons Wednesday to support the NYPD. It was a sight that likely would have been unfathomable a year ago when they took office – with many having won their seats by demanding curbs on the department, Kramer reported.
“We cannot be considering legislation that would require a police officer to ask a suspect, ‘Can I search you?’ and get their permission in writing or verbally — allowing them to rescind that permission at any point,” said Bronx City Councilman James Vacca (D-13th.)
Vacca is just one of a small, but growing, faction speaking out to curb the Council’s zeal to curb the NYPD.
“The ground has shifted beneath us, and I think we have to be cognizant of that,” said Brooklyn Councilman David Greenfield (D-44th.) “I think we have to be more supportive of the NYPD. Some of this legislation is viewed as hampering the NYPD. We need to put the brakes on that.”
The Council’s response to the case of the apparent chokehold that preceded Eric Garner’s death on Staten Island was to introduce two sets of bills – one to make police chokeholds a crime, the other requiring officers to get suspects’ consent to search them.
Today, even some of the most vocal supporters of the legislation have reservations.
“There’s more conversations that we need to have with regards to what makes sense to allow police officers to do their jobs,” said Bronx Councilman Andy King (D-12th.)
“I support police reform,” said Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez (D-10th.) “I believe we have to continue conversation. The question is, how we are moving?”
City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito has been a strong supporter of police reform, but she also had some doubts about pushing the bills.
“I do have some reservations,” she said. “I want to give some space between, obviously, recognizing and honoring the officers and the detectives that passed away, and now we’re going to deliberate on how we proceed.”
But the sponsors of the bill have insisted upon pushing ahead. Queens Councilman Rory Lancman (D-24th) sponsors the chokehold bill and wants it passed.
“We need to look at reforming police-community relations in a responsible way,” he said.
Councilman Antonio Reynoso (D-34th) sponsors the Cognizant to Question Bill that on consent for searches, and said such legislation is needed.
“It’s a reform that’s needed in the Police Department,” Reynoso said.
But Vacca said the Council was not in a position to be policing the police.
“There are many entities that can impose discipline on a police officer that does not do his job,” Vacca said. “Do we in the New York City Council have the authority or knowledge to impose discipline? I think not.”
There are 24 sponsors of Reynoso’s Cognizant to Question Bill, also known as the Right to Know Bill. Only two more are needed to pass it.
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