Queens Electeds Support Community Safety Act

Seven Queens City Council members, including Jimmy Van Bramer, restated their support for the Community Safety Act last week. Photo by Ira Cohen.

Seven Queens City Council members, including Jimmy Van Bramer, restated their support for the Community Safety Act last week. Photo by Ira Cohen.

 By Luis Gronda

Several members of the City Council’s Queens Delegation reiterated their support for the Community Safety Act last week.

Seven council members pledged that they still plan to back the bill, despite facing criticism since the bills were passed last month.  Council members Leroy Comrie (D-St Albans), Mark Weprin (D-Oakland Gardens), Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) and Ruben Wills (D-Jamaica) signed a pledge to restate their support for the bills at a press conference at Queens Borough Hall.

The Community Safety Act consists of two separate bills. The first, called the End NYPD Discriminatory Profiling Bill, would allow anyone to sue the NYPD if they have been discriminated against by a police officer. The second, the NYPD Oversight Act, would establish an Inspector General who would oversee the NYPD and publish reports of their findings to the public.

Both bills were approved by the City Council in June, 34 to 17 and 40 to 11 respectively. Mayor Michael Bloomberg has strongly opposed the bills, calling the legislation “life threatening” and plans to veto the acts, although the council voted with enough majority required to override the Mayor’s future veto.

Critics of the legislation say it would lead to countless lawsuits against the NYPD and the inspector general position would create more bureaucracy within the Police Dept.

But the gathered elected officials countered that argument, saying it will improve safety for the public and does not change the Stop and Frisk law at all.

“You can still stop anyone for any reason that is a law enforcement reason,” said Weprin, who emphatically stated his support for the legislation. “You have to have some cause, some reason to stop citizens.”

Some of the council members have been criticized for their support of the bills and flyers have been distributed in their respective districts, including Weprin’s, by the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, saying that they did not vote in the best interest of the public.

“Our Council members should not be attacked; there should not be thousands of leaflets dropped into their districts with misinformation,” Wills said.

Councilman Jumaane Williams (D-Brooklyn), one of the two sponsors of the bills, appeared at the rally and challenged the City to prove that the legislation is harmful to its police officers.

“You point out in the bill where it says you cannot use descriptions and you point out where it says police officers will be financially harmed, and I will pull the bill before the override vote,” Williams said.

Council members Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights), Julissa Ferreras (D-East Elmhurst) and Donovan Richards (D-Laurelton) also signed the pledge but did not attend last week’s event.

Amidst all the Anthony Weiner hoopla, Mayor Bloomberg officially vetoed both bills on Tuesday afternoon.

Comrie sent out a statement condemning the Mayor’s veto and said that he looks forward to overriding the veto.

“Mayor Bloomberg’s decision to veto the Community Safety Act is another example of how out of touch this administration is with communities across the city,” he said in the statement. “Stop, question, and frisk, has created a deep divide between police officers and the residents they are trying to protect. This Act will help build back the trust that is critical between precincts and their communities in order to find those who are actually breaking the law, and not the innocent people are who stopped every day.”

Reach Luis Gronda at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 127, lgronda@queenstribune.com, or @luisgronda.