With 245 days left in office, Mayor Michael Bloomberg's public safety address to top NYPD brass today called into question the qualifications of an unnamed "some" of his potential successors.
Citing statistics, the mayor rued that the police force is "under attack," saying it's "hard to believe" given an "incredible record" in public safety: for example, Houston, a city a quarter of the size of New York, had twice as many fatal shootings by police officers in 2011.
Bloomberg speculated that criticism of the NYPD is politically motivated, "probably because this is an election year."
"The attacks most often come from those who play no constructive role in keeping our city safe, but rather view their jobs as pointing fingers from the steps of City Hall," he said.
While Bloomberg abstained from naming these attackers, he noted that "some have... sued the NYPD and demanded a Federal monitor over NYPD operations."
Bill de Blasio, one of the Democratic candidates for mayor, has been outspoken against stop-and-frisk and in favor of a more wide-reaching amendment to the existing racial profiling bill. A spokesperson for de Blasio's campaign did not respond to requests for comment, but de Blasio's office as Public Advocate promptly released a statement accusing the mayor of "fear-mongering."
"Mayor Bloomberg offers a false choice between public safety and our basic constitutional rights," de Blasio said in the statement, repeating his support for an Inspector General and a law banning racial profiling. "We can have both, but only with the common-sense accountability and protections Mayor Bloomberg so strenuously opposes."
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who is in favor of an Inspector General but against the bias amendment, released a statement via her campaign spokesperson, pointing out that, unlike whoever the mayor referenced when he mentioned a lack of public safety experience among the candidates, she is "the only candidate for mayor who actually has a record on adding police officers."
She agreed with the mayor on the need to avoid lawsuits that the bias amendment would invite, but reiterated her support for an Inspector General.
The mayor said an Inspector General would call into question whose orders officers should follow, and could create deadly confusion.
"Whose policies should an officer on the street follow — and how would he or she know that their partner would be following the same procedures when the bullets start flying?" the mayor asked. "With confusion comes deadly consequences to our police officers and to the public they are sworn to protect."
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