By Rich Bockmann
Queens Republican City Council hopefuls gathered outside Borough Hall Wednesday to back southeast Queens candidate Scherie Murray, who voiced her opposition to two NYPD reform bills the Council passed two weeks ago.
“The bottom line is, the NYPD has enough oversight,” said Murray, who is mounting a challenge to Councilman Donovan Richards (D-Laurelton) in the November general election.
Richards voted last month for the two bills comprising the Community Safety Act, one that would create an inspector general to oversee the police department and another that broadens the definition of biased-based profiling and leaves the city open to civil lawsuits challenging the NYPD’s practices.
Murray, a Jamaican immigrant and Rosedale resident, said that with an internal affairs bureau, five district attorneys and two federal courts there are already plenty of checks and balances on the NYPD. She did say, however, that she thought officers needed better training when it comes to street encounters.
“As an African-American young woman from Jamaica, I’m afraid for my brother and I’m afraid for my partner. I feel there are certain areas they can’t go without being stopped,” she told TimesLedger Newspapers. “They need to promote better street encounters. Their motto is ‘Courtesy, Professionalism and Respect.’ They should say ‘hello’ and get to know me, and vice versa, but that should be addressed internally — not with more oversight.”
Mayor Michael Bloomberg has vowed to veto the bills, and the police unions are looking to back candidates challenging those lawmakers who voted in favor of them, particularly the profiling one.
Roy Richter, president of the Captains Endowment Association, said his union has already endorsed Councilmen Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria) and Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park), who voted against the bills.
Ulrich accused his colleagues who supported the bills of “pandering in an election year.”
Richter said his union had been in talks about endorsing Councilman Mark Weprin (D-Oakland Gardens), but decided not to after Weprin voted in favor of the profiling bill. The Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association said it handed out thousands of fliers at the Bayside Long Island Rail Road station last week urging them to pressure the councilman to change his vote.
Weprin said he voted for the bill to send a message to City Hall that he would not stand for racial profiling. He said 70 percent of his district is comprised of people of color and it seems most everyone stopped is either black, Latino or South Asian.
Richter said the captains union has not yet endorsed any Council challengers in Queens, but said in no uncertain terms the union will not back anyone who voted for the profiling bill.
GOP hopefuls from Queens running for City Council seats Dennis Saffran, Craig Curuana, Alex Bilshteyn, Dan Peterson and Sunny Hahn showed up to support Murray in her southeast Queens bid and speak in a unified voice opposing the Community Safety Act.
Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4574.