Michael Bloomberg vetos police oversight bills
Paving the way for an override fight, Mayor Michael Bloomberg vetoed City Council legislation Tuesday that would create an outside watchdog for the police department and expand the categories protected against profiling by the NYPD.
In the expected vetoes of the Community Safety Act’s measures, Bloomberg called the two bills “dangerous and irresponsible,” adding they would “make New Yorkers less safe.”
Supporters believe the measures will increase trust between the police department amidst increasing criticism of the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk and surveillance practices.
An independent inspector general established by the legislation would have subpoena power to explore and recommend changes to police practices. The anti-racial profiling measure would allow lawsuits against individual officers, but suits could only seek to change police practices and not monetary damages.
Both Bloomberg and police commissioner Ray Kelly have said the legislation would make it difficult for NYPD to protect the city from terrorist attacks and gun crimes.
Despite Bloomberg and Kelly’s efforts, the pieces of legislation were approved by the City Council in June with enough votes to override a mayoral veto, which is expected later this summer.
The inspector general bill received 40 votes, six more than the two-thirds necessary to override Bloomberg’s veto, but the anti-racial profiling measure passed with 34 votes, the exact number needed for an override. A council member can change their vote in the event of an override.
Council Members Jumaane D. Williams and Brad Lander, two big supporters of the bills, said they look forward to overturning Bloomberg’s veto.
“In the midst of an important national conversation on profiling and discrimination, Mayor Bloomberg has not only turned a blind eye to the plight of his own city, he has done so while refusing to hear any testimony from affected communities,” the pair said in a joint statement.
Follow Anna Sanders on Twitter: @AnnaESanders