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City Council passes police oversight bills in late nigh session

Photo by Christina Santucci
By Rich Bockmann

While the city that never sleeps was in all likelihood enjoying a deep slumber, the City Council early Thursday morning passed two NYPD oversight bills with veto-proof majorities crafted in the wake of public outcry over the stop-and-frisk practice.

At the end of an all-night session that began at 11 p.m., the Council gave the green light around 2:30 a.m. to two pieces of legislation that would create an inspector general to oversee the Police Department and another that would allow alleged victims of racial profiling to sue the NYPD.

The bills, known collectively as the Community Safety Act, now go to the desk of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has vowed to veto them.

The inspector general bill passed with a comfortable 40-11 majority, but the one concerning racial profiling was approved 34-17, just capturing the 34 votes needed to override the mayor’s red pen.

Should Bloomberg ax the bills, they would go back to the Council for an override vote, and that 34th ‘yea’ could be subject to some political sway.

The NYPD’s captains and detective’s union took out an ad in the New York Post last week blasting the bias-based profiling bill.

“If a police officer transmits descriptions beyond clothing color, they can be sued for racial profiling,” the ad read. “That’s dangerous for the public and police officers.”

Roy Ricther, president of the Captains Endowment Association, said the union’s board voted last week on City Council endorsements, but would hold off making formal announcements until the whole matter was finalized.

“I can tell you this: we will not be endorsing an candidate who voted for [the racial profiling bill],” he said. “That’s the one that really affects individual officers.”

Queens council members Liz Crowley (D-Middle Village), James Gennaro (D-Fresh Meadows), Peter Koo (D-Flushing), Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park) and Peter Vallone (D-Astoria) voted against the inspector general bill, while the rest of the Queens delegation voted in favor of it.

Council members Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone) and Karen Koslowitz (D-Forest Hills) joined the borough voting block that opposed the inspector general bills and voted against the profiling measure.

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at rbockmann@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.

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