Police Commissioner Ray Kelly agreed to tweak the NYPD’s controversial stop-and-frisk program, but that didn’t save him from a barrage of criticism Thursday at a City Council hearing.
In a letter Wednesday, Kelly told City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who has been critical about the program, that the department would improve training and accountability in order to “increase public confidence” in stop-and-frisk tactics.
For example, the NYPD is developing a system to identify officers who receive more public complaints than similarly assigned colleagues and has republished an order that prohibits racial profiling.
Kelly also said the captain of each precinct would now personally audit all stop-and-frisk reports.
The commissioner remained unrepentant about stop-and-frisk’s effectiveness.
“New York City is, by far, the safest large city in America,” Kelly told Council members Thursday.
He added, “I’ve been around the department for 44 years, and I think our relationship with the community is better than it’s ever been.”
The hearing’s topic was the NYPD’s 2013 budget. But many Council members used the time to criticize the department’s stop-and-frisk policies.
“This is an ineffective program … and it’s either accidentally, incidentally or purposefully racist,” Brooklyn Councilman Jumaane Williams said. Williams later said he saw a “glimmer of hope” for reform after reading Kelly’s letter.
Stop-and-frisk litigation and legislation
Kelly sent the letter the same day that a federal judge granted class-action status to a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk program. Meanwhile, on Thursday, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio introduced a bill that would mandate a reduction in the number of unwarranted stops.