A group of Queens councilmembers that voted in favor of controversial legislation to oversee the activities of the NYPD gathered at Borough Hall to reaffirm their support last week.
Led by Councilmember Leroy Comrie, the public officials, including Borough President Helen Marshall and various minority groups, said the Community Safety Act would help end profiling by police officers. The group also blasted Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association (PBA) for “attacking” councilmembers in support of the act.
“We want people to understand that these are common sense tempered measures that have been put together only after a lot of consultant with many different entities, including law enforcement,” Comrie said.
The act, which proposes two bills, was approved by the council about three weeks ago. One of the bills creates an inspector general to share oversight of the NYPD with the police commissioner. The other bill will make it easier for people to take the department to court over discrimination.
Bloomberg has since promised he will veto it.
Supporters believe it will end “abuse” of the Stop and Frisk policy, which they said overly targets minorities, and will help improve relations with cops.
“Unfortunately in this city and in particularly in communities of color, many people don’t trust the police officers,” Councilmember Mark Weprin said. “We want them to trust the police, so when they see something wrong they say something.”
Opponents believe the Community Safety Act will interrupt the NYPD by dragging officers to court for costly cases.
Brooklyn councilmember Jumaane Williams, a co-sponsor of the bill, joined the rally in support and issued a challenge to Bloomberg.
“You point out in the bill where it says you cannot use descriptions and you point out where it says police officers may be financially harmed and I will pull the bill before the override vote,” Williams said. “It’s time to put up or shut up.”
The PBA challenged councilmembers in support of the bill who have upcoming elections, such as Weprin, by supporting their opponents and handing out flyers in their district.
“The PBA is not attacking any councilmembers,” said Albert O’Leary, the PBA communications director. “We are simply informing their constituents that the officers who protect their community believe that these representatives did not vote in the best interest of the community by supporting two badly conceived and unnecessary bills.”