4:58 pm Sep. 24, 2012
Four major pieces of legislation that could dramatically curtail the growing number of people frisked by New York police officers will be heard at a public hearing next month, the New York City Council just announced.
The power to call hearings rests solely with the City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, a working ally of Mayor Michael Bloomberg and somewhat reluctant critic of the police. But scheduling public discussion is not exactly an expression of support, nor does it guarantee the bills will ever come to the floor for a vote.
The hearing will be followed by two public discussions, which will take place on college campuses in majority-minority neighborhoods in the evening. Those will likely draw a large turnout of people who critics say have been unfairly targeted by the practice, commonly known as "stop-and-frisk."
The first bill would require police to hand out business cards identifying themselves to whomever they are stopping.
A second bill would require officers to remind suspects they have the right to refuse to be searched "and obtain written authorization or an audio recording of the consent."
A third bill would make it easier to sue the city for alleged bias-based profiling, and the fourth bill would create an Office of Inspector General to oversee the New York Police Department, a move strongly opposed by the NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly.
The hearing will be across the street from City Hall, at 250 Broadway, at 10 a.m. on October 10th.
The two public discussion will take place at the Brooklyn College Student Student Center on October 23, at 6 p.m., and at York College in Queens, the following day, at 6 p.m.
Police efforts to combat terrorism and street crime have always drawn criticism, but that's increased as Mayor Michael Bloomberg's third and final term draws closer to an end, and his likely replacements vie for support from the city's progressive quarters, who strongly want to see changes at the NYPD.
Quinn has expressed concerns about the number of people stopped and frisked by the NYPD, but has stopped short of making it a regular talking point in public appearances.
Other candidates, like Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, have said some parents are more afraid of police officers than local drug dealers, and called for a more holistic approach to combating crime, similar to efforts used in Boston and other cities. Critics say that approach doesn't last long and can't be sustain.
Public Advocate Bill de Blasio has trained his criticism on City Hall, saying Bloomberg should order a reduction in stop-and-frisks conducted by police officers, and hold police brass accountable if they're not reduced. De Blasio, without citing a specific number of stops he would find acceptable, said the Compstat model of police accountability could be applied to stop-and-frisks.
Former City Comptroller and 2009 mayoral nominee Bill Thompson has said the current stop-and-frisk practices by the NYPD were unacceptable and needed to be curbed.
And embattled City Comptroller John Liu has said the entire practice of stop-and-frisks needed to be "abolished."
UPDATE: This story has been updated to clarify that only one of the public meetings is a hearing on the four bills; the other two are opportunities for the public to testify about police-related matters.
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