Council Overturns Mayoral Veto of NYPD Bills

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The City Council voted Thursday to override Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s veto of two bills that increase NYPD oversight and are seen as a sharp rebuke of his administration’s policing policies – namely, the police department's use of stop and frisk.

One of the measures, creating an inspector general to monitor the NYPD, saw the mayor's veto overridden by a vote of 39-10. The other, Intro 1080, which expands the definition of racial profiling to include sexual orientation, housing status and gender, passed 34-15.

The law allowing individuals with bias complaints to sue officers in state court, although not for monetary damages, takes effect in 90 days. Critics have warned it could lead to an onslaught of lawsuits.

Supporters say the IG will be able to conduct investigations, review NYPD policies and provide an overall risk-management assessment of the department. The new watchdog will work within the city’s Department of Investigation and be appointed by the next mayor, in January 2014.

The four weeks between the mayor’s veto of the bills and the council’s override vote has been a time of intense behind-the-scenes maneuvering. Bloomberg’s aides pressured council members with the help of several police unions, urging them to reconsider their vote. Their efforts appear to be in vain, since all council members voted the same way they did last June, with the exception of members Dan Halloran and Peter Vallone, who were absent.

Mayor Bloomberg released a statement on Thursday evening, calling the bills “election year politics at its worst and pandering at its most deadly.” He reiterated the legislation would make the city less safe.

The mostly expected –  but widely anticipated –  passage of the legislation was cause for celebration by many in the packed chambers. One of the sponsors of the legislation, Jumaane Williams, became visibly emotional moments before he cast his vote.