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Heated Exchanges at Hearing on NYPD Reform

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Council members traded barbs during a hearing on a package of bills that would alter NYPD operations – and includes major changes to the department’s controversial stop-and-frisk policy.

City Council member Jumaane Williams, who became a vocal critic after he was detained during the West Indian Day Parade two years ago, sponsored all four proposals being discussed.

"It is long past time to address the disparate ways that this city is being policed," he said, saying they have led to a police force that acts and is perceived differently in wealthy white neighborhoods and poor minority ones. "It is truly a tale of two cities."

The problems go beyond street stops, he said, noting Muslim surveillance. But stop and frisk is "the most palpable" issue, he said.

Michael Best, counselor to the mayor, testified for the city and said the tactic is a critical element in the department's broader crime fighting strategies.

"We believe that the vast majority of officers do their jobs professionally, including when they do stop, question and frisk, and it's an important part of our strategy," Best said, calling the proposals impractical and unnecessary.

"The bills that are currently before this committee are bills that would change and conflict with existing state law," he said.

The four bills introduced earlier this year aim to reform how the controversial stop and frisk tactic is performed and increase police accountability.

Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly have defended the NYPD and its use of stop and frisk, calling it a vital tactic in the city’s effort to remove guns from the street.

Last year, 684,330 people were stopped on the streets by police under the stop-and-frisk program, a record since the NYPD began tallies in 2002, according to the New York Civil Liberties Union.

The bills in the Community Safety Act include:

Intro 799: Mandates that prior to conducting a search, NYPD officers explain to the individual that he or she has a right to consent to the search or refuse the search. Officers would be requited to obtain written or audio authorization before going forward.

801: Would require officers to indentify themselves and explain their actions

800: Amend the current definition of racial profiling and create a private right of action allowing people or organizations affected by bias-based profiling to bring a lawsuit.

881: Establish an office of inspector general for the NYPD to review polices practices, programs and operations.

Two hearings are scheduled in Brooklyn and Queens on October 23 and 24 to allow for more public comment.

A day before the Wednesday hearing, The Nation published an audio recording allegedly taken by a Harlem teen as police officers stopped and frisked him last June. In the two-minute recording, police allegedly call the teen a "f---king mutt" and threaten to break his arm.

The audio clip is part of a stop-and-frisk documentary by filmmaker Ross Tuttle.

With the Associated Press

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Comments [3]

Police Chief David Couper from USA

If you are really interested in improving your police you need to see my new book in order to know what to look for and what to expect, “Arrested Development: A Veteran Police Chief Sounds Off About Protest, Racism, Corruption and the Seven Steps Necessary to Improve Our Nation’s Police” (Amazon.com) and visit my blog at http://improvingpolice.wordpress.com where I deal with issues confronting police and their improvement.

Oct. 11 2012 01:32 PM
John from office

stefpix,: As to the overweight cops. There was case law in the seventies and with issues of height. If you enforce the overweight issue you will be overly harsh with certain groups, that love their sweet drinks and fried foods. So that is a NO. Height requirement would affect women and certain other groups, leading to tears at the COurt house, so that is also a NO. Pray the council does not get any oversight over the cops, they would be reduced to security guards at Kmart status. The council would legalize drug sales, gun play and hanging out on the project steps as protected Rights and ethically sensitive issues. Also Dreadlocks would become a protected species.

Oct. 11 2012 07:32 AM

starting from the way it presents itself. the sign that says "Welcome to the 90th precinct etc etc..." begins with some ornate cartoonish font. It is typographic horror with a mish mash of colors, fonts, sizes and upper case. Same but not as bad their cars with bad lettering and colors (Courtesy/ Professionalism/Respect). Who designs the NYPD's stuff? It is on the level of $2 phonecards you can buy at the local bodega. NYC taxis and MTA have a more coherent image. A lot of police officers are overweight. Are there any fitness standards to be part of the force? State troopers and police forces around the world are definitely more fit. Then what is all this shoot to kill rather than shoot to incapacitate policy? Lately too many people that did nothing that deserved to lose their life died by the NYPD bullets. The hollow point bullets that are illegal in warfare, one shoot in the stomach and you are dead because they destroy internal organs and cause massive bleeding. The list is long but I will stop here...

Oct. 10 2012 08:30 PM

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