Council prepares to override mayoral veto of safety act
by Shane Miller
Aug 13, 2013 | 1514 views | 0 0 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Pictured from left to right are Councilman Jumaane Williams, Assemblyman Rafael Espinal, Jr. and Councilman Erik Dilan.
Pictured from left to right are Councilman Jumaane Williams, Assemblyman Rafael Espinal, Jr. and Councilman Erik Dilan.
The City Council will attempt to override the mayor's veto of the Community Safety Act when it meets next week.

The legislation would create an inspector general post to oversee the NYPD, as well as enact an enforceable ban on racial profiling by police officers.

The City Council needs 34 votes to override a mayoral veto, and in the case of the profiling ban, it will need every vote. The bill passed the council initially by a vote of 34-17.

The legislation creating the inspector general post easily passed the council, so a veto override is essentially guaranteed.

Rumors began circulating two weeks ago that one of the bill's supporters, Councilman Erik Dilan of Brooklyn, was being considered for a post with the Board of Elections, and therefore could be leaving the City Council before the vote, putting the veto override in jeopardy.

Last Thursday, Dilan was joined by one of the bill's main sponsors and vocal supporters, Councilman Jumaane williams, to reiterate his support for the Community Safety Act and the profiling ban.

“A few sensational press article have been the only thing that would throw my support into question,” said Dilan, “and those articles did not come from me and those words did not come from my mouth. I do expect to be voting with my colleague Jumaane Williams on these bills.”

The administration has argued that strengthening and enforcing a ban on racial profiling will prevent the NYPD from using descriptions of suspects that include characteristics such as race, age or gender, thus hampering investigations.

Critics also say that the bill will leave the city vulnerable to lawsuits if a person thinks they were stopped because of the color of their skin or because they were, say, male.

Councilman Peter Vallone, Jr., who voted against the bill, agrees. He worries that the bill will hurt effective police programs, like Operation Impact.

“They need 34 votes and I sure hope that doesn't happen,” he said. “This is the most dangerous bill in modern New York history.”

Proponents of the bill say it only prevents the NYPD from using race as a primary factor when stopping individuals, especially as it pertains to the controversial policy of stop and frisk.

Joining Williams and Dilan at the corner of Irving and Gates avenues in Bushwick last Thursday were members of Make the Road New York. Justin Serrano, 19, said he has been stopped by officers a handful of times over the last four years and shared his experiences with stop and frisk.

“It sucks to leave the house and wonder if I'm going to be stopped by the bad guys or the cops,” he said. “It sucks that my community then looks at me differently.”

Williams said he has been working behind the scenes to make sure that all 34 council members who voted for the bill continue to support it and plan to vote that way again on August 22.

“We have been careful, cautious and strategic from the time we introduced the bill, and we are going to be that way until we override the veto,” said Williams.

On Monday, a federal judge dealt another blow to stop and frisk. Judge Shira Scheindlin ruled that the use of stop and frisk was unconstitutional, and called for immediate reforms to the program. She appointed former city corporation counsel Peter Zimroth to monitor the changes.

The judge also ordered a one-year pilot program to require cops to wear cameras to record their actions when stopping suspects.

“Today’s ruling...highlights the enormous flaws in the NYPD’s stop and frisk tactic, which has served to undermine trust between communities and law enforcement,” said Comptroller John Liu, who has been an outspoken critic of stop and frisk on the campaign trail in his bid to become the next mayor. “It’s time to put an end to stop and frisk once and for all.”

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