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(UPDATED) Community Safety Act pushed forward in City Council

The mayor and the police commissioner spoke out against the Community Safety Act, arguing that it will endanger the lives of police officers.

ray-kelly-police-podium NYPD Police Commissioner Ray Kelly. Credit: Getty Images

UPDATE:Despite pleas from Republican members, the City Council approved this afternoon a motion to discharge the anti-bias profiling bill and the Inspector General bill, bypassing the Public Safety Committee.

Public Safety Committee chair Peter Vallone had previously refused to bring the bills to a vote in his committee.

The bills will be put forward for a vote by the full council this Wednesday or Thursday, according to spokespersons from City Council Speaker Christine Quinn's office.

Even though they are packaged together as the Community Safety Act, the bills can be voted on separately. For example, Quinn has said she will vote for an Inspector General, but against the anti-bias profiling bill.

If the bills pass, Mayor Michael Bloomberg has the option to veto them. However, the Council can then override his veto.

Metro's original story is below.

As the City Council prepares to push forward the Community Safety Act, legislation that bundles a bill that would establish an Inspector General over the NYPD and another that would expand the categories protected against profiling by the NYPD, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, backed by several current and former district attorneys and union leaders, spoke out against the bills.

Bloomberg and Kelly lashed out at the Council, citing concerns over everything from the safety and security of officers, to the body count of young men of color who fall victim to gun crime in the city, to protecting the city from terrorist attacks.

"Take heart, al Qaeda wannabes," Kelly said, as he argued that the legislation will "undermine partnerships with both domestic and foreign entities" that"have helped keep New York safe."

"If you think our partners will stand idly by to a review of their own sensitive operations by an ill-conceived notion of an Inspector General, think again," Kelly said. "They will simply walk away."

According to Kelly, every other decade has seen at least one New Yorker injured in a terrorist attack. In the past ten years, not one terrorism-related injury has occurred.

Kelly and Bloomberg have been arguing against these two bills for several weeks now, but today presented a few new points.

One example Bloomberg offered addressed the "housing status" element in the profiling bill: housing status has been added to the list of criteria that the NYPD could be accused of unjustly targeting.

But Bloomberg noted that after a particularly violent weekend in early June, the NYPD publicly announced they were increasing police presence in public housing complexes, as much of the violent crime had taken place in those area. There was little to no public outcry to this measure, Bloomberg noted.

But the mayor argued that the profiling bill would prohibit the NYPD from allocating resources that way: even if a high margin of crime was being committed in public housing areas, putting more officers there would constitute "targeting" based on housing, he said.

Bloomberg also said that the Inspector General bill allows for the filing of anonymous complaints, suggesting that such complaints could be filed by gang members.

"They wouldn't have to allege unnecessary use of force, abuse of authority, discourtesy, or offensive language to make a complaint," Bloomberg said.

Bloomberg insisted that the NYPD would be forced to spend time reviewing and answering such complaints, but the Community Safety Act's sponsors, Brooklyn Councilmen Brad Lander and Jumaane Williams denied this, and said that the Inspector General would review all of the complaints and decide which ones merited consideration.

The Council will vote this afternoon on a motion to discharge, which would push the bills past the Public Safety Committee. The Act should technically be voted on in the Public Safety Committee prior to coming to the full Council for a vote, but Public Safety chair Peter Vallone is opposed to the bills.

Lander and Williams believe they have majority support in the full Council.

Follow Danielle Tcholakian on Twitter @danielleiat

 
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