Stop n' Think: NYC Scores Veto-Proof Majority for Two Bills Aimed at Limiting Racial Profiling by the NYPD

Early Thursday night, the New York City Council passed two bills with a veto-proof majority that will expand oversight of the New York Police Department (NYPD).   The bills were passed against the wishes of both Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and outgoing Mayor Michael Bloomberg who had previously called his opposition to the bills a “matter of life and death.”  Sadly, he wasn't referring to the wrongly accused and jailed.

The new bills will allow New Yorkers a legal means to challenge the city’s controversial "stop and frisk" program.  They also aim to limit the police department's ability to racially profile New York citizens:

The two bills were first introduced as a package last year by Councilmen Jumaane D. Williams and Brad Lander. The two bills were first introduced as a package last year by Councilmen Jumaane D. Williams and Brad Lander.

One, known as Intro 1079, would create an independent inspector general to monitor and review police policy, conduct investigations and recommend changes to the department. The monitor would be part of the city’s Investigation Department alongside the inspectors general for other city agencies.

The law would go into effect Jan. 1, 2014, leaving the matter of choosing the monitor to the next mayor.

The other bill, Intro 1080, would expand the definition of bias-based profiling to include age, gender, housing status and sexual orientation. It also would allow individuals to sue the Police Department in state court — not only for individual instances of bias, but also for policies that disproportionately affect people in any protected categories without serving a significant law enforcement goal.

With Mayor Bloomberg’s veto promise now obsolete, people of all walks of life have a better chance at, um, walking through life.  His potential successor, Christine Quinn (now being gained on by Anthony Weiner), originally opposed both bills. She later voted to move them out of committee and to create an independent inspector general to look deeper into the issues. In the end, however, she voted against the bill that prevented racial profiling.

 

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Chaz Bolte
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