Members of New York City's congressional delegation are calling on the federal government to weigh in on the Police Department's use of the so-called broken windows theory.
Representatives Hakeem Jeffries, Charles Rangel, Jose Serrano, Nydia Velázquez, Gregory Meeks and Yvette Clarke signed the letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. In it, they link the use of the theory — whereby minor offenses are dealt with to prevent more serious crimes — to selective policing in communities of color.
"Conversely, there is reason to believe that similar activity is ignored by the NYPD in majority-white neighborhoods of New York City," the letter read.
"To the extent the NYPD is engaging in a racially selective law enforcement campaign pursuant to its broken windows approach, the constitutional and federal civil rights of black and Latino residents may be in jeopardy," the leaders added.
Last month, Staten Island man Eric Garner died after he was arrested for allegedly selling untaxed, loose cigarettes on a Staten Island street corner. Eyewitness video showed Officer Daniel Pantaleo come up from behind Garner and wrap his arm around the Garner's neck.
The medical examiner ruled Garner's death a homicide as a result of a chokehold, a move that the NYPD patrol guide disallowed since 1993.
The Justice Department said it is reviewing the lawmakers' letter. Previously, Holder has said the DOJ was in touch with officials and the Garner family.
"We are closely monitoring the city's investigation into the incident," Holder said in late July.
Asked on Thursday about potential federal intervention, Mayor Bill de Blasio — who has ardently defended both Police Commissioner Bill Bratton and the broken windows theory — said the city is ready to cooperate fully.
"That's a decision for the the Justice Department to make," the mayor told reporters.