New York's City Council has passed measures to create an independent watchdog of the NYPD that will monitor police misconduct and also make it easier for citizens to bring racial profiling claims against the department.
In recent years, the NYPD has looked to crack down on violence and terrorism, but the department has came under scrutiny for largely violating the civil rights of innocent New Yorkers through its stop-and-frisk and Muslim surveillance tactics.
"New Yorkers know that we can keep our city safe from crime and terrorism without profiling our neighbors," Councilman Brad Lander told the Associated Press. The measures are expected to be vetoed as the idea of police monitoring has been met with criticism.
Associated Press reports:
Critics say the measures would impinge on techniques that have wrestled crime down dramatically and would leave the NYPD "pointlessly hampered by outside intrusion and recklessly threatened by second-guessing from the courts," in Mayor Michael Bloomberg's words. He vowed in a statement minutes after the vote to veto the measures and continue urging lawmakers to take his side.
But while it's too soon to settle how the initiatives may play out in practice if they survive the expected veto, they already have shaped politics and perception.
Besides giving ground to complaints that the NYPD hasn't been sensitive enough to civil rights and racial fairness, the legislation has put the three-term mayor and his popular police commissioner, Raymond Kelly, in the uncommon position of possibly losing a high-profile fight on public safety. They have gone to lengths to make their criticisms heard, most recently in a Monday news conference at which Bloomberg envisioned gang members lodging discriminatory-policing complaints and Kelly invoked "al-Qaeda wannabes."
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(Photo: Lucas Jackson/Reuters)