By Bob Friedrich
I don’t care to go back to the bad old days of New York City, when crime was rampant, city streets were filled with folks thinking it was acceptable to sleep on sidewalks, squeegee men assaulted drivers stopped at red lights and our town was headed down a long spiral of despair. The City Council’s short memory is about to drag us back to those days with the passage of Intro 1079 and 1080, which end stop-and-frisk and creates an NYPD inspector general.
Notwithstanding that the NYPD, under Commissioner Raymond Kelly, is considered the best trained police force in the nation, the Council’s actions will undermine the NYPD’s ability to fight crime and have lasting repercussions on our city. Contrary to their assertions of wanting a safe city, these same Council members have eviscerated the NYPD’s budget and manpower over the past decade.
Nevertheless, the NYPD has been able to continue its successful track record of reducing crime in our city and transforming it into the safest large city in America. It did not just happen by accident: Hard work, accountability and creative policing have dramatically reduced crime in areas that have historically had high crime rates.
In 1990, nearly 2,300 people were murdered in New York City. In 2012, it was just under 400, or 6.5 killings per 100,000 people. In nearby Philadelphia, it was 21.2 killings per 100,000. In 2012, there were 83 stops per 1,000 people in New York City. In Philadelphia, it was 132 and in Chicago 139. The use of firearms by NYPD officers is significantly lower than in other major U.S. cities. When the facts are presented, NYPD’s crime fighting success rate is undeniable. But none of this matters to Council members having no law enforcement experience and sitting in a Council drowning in corruption and malfeasance exposed almost daily by the press.
And now these same individuals are telling us how best to run the finest police force in the country. Give me a break.
Certainly, stop-and-frisk can be debated, but characterizing it as profiling simply based on raw data does not prove it. Should police resources be used in crime-free or crime-ridden neighborhoods?
Incredibly, this new law passed by the Council would bar police from relying on race, national origin, color, creed, age, citizenship, gender, sexual orientation, disability, housing status, etc., from being “the determinative factor in initiating law enforcement action.”
So if police get a call that a crime has been committed and the suspect is white, age 21 and walks with a limp, none of this can be used by the police arriving at the scene of the crime to help determine who may have committed the crime? This is lunacy run amok.
And to make matters worse, the bill makes it easier to sue the city based on the use of these determinative factors. Another payday for enterprising attorneys.
The mayor will veto this bill, but the bill passed with enough votes to override the veto. However, the mayor only needs a single Council member to switch his or her vote for the veto to be sustained. Although seven Queens Council members voted for the bill, the PBA has focused its efforts on flipping the vote of only one lawmaker. That person is Mark Weprin, who is also my councilman. Perhaps it’s because his district covers the more conservative voting enclaves of eastern Queens and sits adjacent to the districts covered by Councilmen Dan Halloran, Peter Koo and James Gennaro, all of whom voted against this bill. Instead of siding with these Council members and Public Safety Committee Chairman Peter Vallone from Astoria, Mark Weprin has chosen to align himself with the NYPD’s harshest critics, Council members Charles Barron and the bill’s sponsor, Jumaane Wiliams, in support of the legislation..
Councilman Mark Weprin may be out of step with the majority of the community he represents. But he has a chance to undo the damage and become the hero of the day and stop the bill’s enactment. If he votes to uphold the veto, the bill will not become law. Although Weprin has no opponent in the upcoming election, voters can let him know that we do not want to go back to the bad old days.