Democratic Assemblyman Karin Camara and State Senator Kevin Parker announced today their introduction of legislation that would establish an New York City Police Department independent inspector general position. The office would be housed within the New York City Department of Investigations. As it stands, the police department's only oversight comes from internal affairs, which report to the police commissioner.
The announcement, which came out of Parker's office, used strong language in talking about the need for independent oversight of the police department:
In recent years we have witnessed serious abuses by the NYPD, whether for racially and religious discriminatory policies such as stop and frisk, the wholesale surveillance of the Muslim community in New York City and other jurisdictions, and the mistreatment of the Occupy Wall St. protesters. In some of these situations the public was given misinformation and even deliberately misled.
"No one is above the law, not even law enforcement," Parker said in a statement. This legislation seeks to restore the public trust and honor the heroism and service of thousands of officers. By creating an independent inspector general, the NYPD will have an independent watchdog to ensure the integrity of the Department like other state and federal law enforcement entities."
"While the overwhelming majority of NYC police officers are exemplary in their conduct and beyond dedicated in serving and protecting the public, several recent incidences of alleged abuse and possible egregious misconduct call for greater scrutiny and accountability of the police department," said Assemblyman Camara in a statement.
New York City Councilman Jumaane Williams, who has been a vocal critic of the department's actions after a run in with police officers near his district in Brooklyn over the summer, praised the bill, saying in a statement, "No agency should be allowed to police itself, including the police. Independent oversight is essential to making sure we enjoy the best possible NYPD, on that serves all of our communities equally and respectfully."
Another Brooklyn elected official, Republican Senator Martin Golden, was less enthusiastic about the intent of the legislation.
"I don't believe that the New York City Police Department needs an inspector general," Golden, a former police officer, said when reached by phone. He said he hadn't seen the legislation yet, but felt that the department's internal affairs bureau has done "an excellent job going into its ranks" to deal with police misconduct.