BY NATALIA KOZIKOWSKA
Even heavy rainfall could not stop Republicans from joining together at the steps of Queens Borough Hall in opposition to the Community Safety Act – a set of bills that would oversee the New York Police Department.
The first bill, Intro 1079, created an independent inspector general position to oversee the NYPD. The second bill, Intro 1080, allows racial profiling lawsuits against the police department.
Although both bills passed with wide enough majorities to avoid a mayoral veto, Mayor Michael Bloomberg has vowed to persuade councilmembers to change their vote in order to veto the bills. The bills would go into effect Jan. 1, 2014.
Wednesday’s protest, organized by Scherie Murray, a candidate for the 31st District Council seat, was held less than one week after her potential future rival and incumbent, Councilman Donovan Richards (D-Laurelton), held his press conference praising the bills he believes would curb racial profiling associated with the controversial Stop, Question and Frisk Policy.
“Both bills are no good for New York or its residents,” Murray said. “The bottom line is the NYPD has enough oversight…. Let’s stop this insanity. Let’s support our local police officers and keep our streets safe.”
Murray also argued the City budget would be negatively impacted by the bills.
“Both bills will have a negative impact on expenditures costing upwards of $3.5 million in 2015,” she said. “Eventually, the New York City taxpayers will be footing the bill.”
John Burnett, a new Republican candidate in the race for New York City Comptroller, echoed similar sentiments.
“Being a Black person, a Black male in New York City, I definitely understand the need to protect civil liberties. I think we need to work with the police department and not actually create extra layers of bureaucracy,” he said. “Being born in Brooklyn, being raised in Queens Village and currently residing in Harlem, I think it’s extremely important to keep communities safe.”
“I think it’s important we focus on the benefits of Stop and Frisk but at the same time protect the civil liberties of those who feel they were stopped inappropriately,” he added.
Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park), a vocal proponent of the Stop and Frisk policy, argued the legislation would tie the hand of police officers and consequently, increase crime.
“These bills are downright dangerous. They’re going to put the safety and well-being of New Yorkers in jeopardy,” he said. “The result will be rising crime and increased hostility between police and the communities they serve.”
Ulrich even accused Democrats who vocally oppose the bill of doing so for votes in the upcoming election season.
“A bunch of politicians are pandering in an election year – and that’s what they are doing, passing laws that could make it more difficult for them [police officers] to do their jobs,” he said. “And in fact, we’re policing the police and trying to tie the hands of police to make it more difficult for them to keep our streets safe.”
Reach Natalia Kozikowska at (718)357-7400 Ext. 123 or firstname.lastname@example.org or @nkozikowska.