Police union to sue City Council over anti-profiling bill
The Patrolmen’s Benevolent Union is suing the City Council on the grounds that its anti-profiling bill overstepped the bounds of its authority and is “unconstitutionally vague.”
PBA spokesman Al O’Leary noted that the officers union has a particular stake in this issue, as officers are the ones on the street conducting stops, making arrests and issuing summons.
“They’re the ones in the crosshairs of these bills,” O’Leary said.
Brooklyn Councilman Jumaane Williams, one of the architects of the council’s profiling bill, responded to the news of the lawsuit with a statement.
“Instead of holding the residents of New York City in perpetual state of confusion with regard to stop-and-frisk, the association should join us in helping the city move forward so that residents will finally be assured that they will not be profiled,” Williams said in the statement.
Meanwhile, the Sergeants Benevolent Association quietly filed a motion to intervene last week in the city’s lawsuit against the council over this bill and its companion bill mandating an inspector general with oversight of the NYPD.
“Should the city under the next mayor decide to withdraw the lawsuit, we can carry it on our own,” SBA President Ed Mullins explained.
The various police unions did the same for the city’s suit attempting to block the federal court ruling by Judge Shira Scheindlin that declared stop-and-frisk unconstitutional and discriminatory.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly have repeatedly insisted that Scheindlin’s ruling and the council bills will make the city more dangerous.
But data from the mayor’s office on Monday indicated that the city had gone a full week without a single murder.
In his statement lashing out at the PBA, Williams noted that this is “the longest killing-free period since January.”
The city experienced record-low numbers of shootings and murders in 2012, the lowest since such data started being collected. There have already been 90 fewer murders this year than last year at this time, a 26 percent decrease.
Compare those statistics to 20 years ago: “More than 2,000 deaths occurred by this time in 1990,” Williams recounted.
“In review of the mayor’s 12 years in office, there is no evidence to support his contention that killings will rise as a result of decreases in stop-and-frisk,” Williams argued in his statement.
Critics of the mayor have been quick to seize on this murder-free week as evidence disputing Bloomberg and Kelly’s concerns, proof that the council bill and Scheindlin’s ruling are not dangerous to the city.
But Mullins of the Sergeants Benevolent Association, which is not involved in the PBA’s suit, said such claims are unfounded.
“About two to three weeks ago, shootings were up and gun arrests were down and the opposition (to Scheindlin’s ruling) said, ‘See, shootings are up and gun arrests are down because of Scheindlin’s decision,’” Mullins recalled. “The other side is doing the same thing now.”
But he dismissed the notion that any of these factors are related to the ruling or the council bills.
“It’s too early to tell,” he protested. “We have to let it take its course.”
Queens Councilman Peter Vallone, chair of the council’s public safety committee and among the most outspoken opponents of the Community Safety Act, said he thinks the PBA and SBA’s actions to fight the bill is “an absolute necessity” because of the likelihood that the next mayor will drop the suits.
He also agreed that the council did not have the jurisdiction to pass such legislation.
“The council was so far out of its justification, it might as well have legislated to colonize Mars,” Vallone wrote in a text message.
If frontrunner Bill de Blasio wins the mayoral election, he has vowed to drop all suits fighting Scheindlin’s decision and the council’s bills. His Republican opponent, Joe Lhota, said he’ll keep up the fight.
Follow Danielle Tcholakian on Twitter @danielleiat