Hours after the City Council passed two new bills intended to check the NYPD's allegedly unconstitutional enforcement policies, Mayor Bloomberg and NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly came out swinging. “This is a fight to defend your life and your kids’ lives. You can rest assured I will not give up for one minute,” Bloomberg told reporters yesterday, vowing to veto the bills, which empower New Yorkers to challenge discriminatory police practices in state court, and create an Inspector General to broadly review NYPD policy.
"These are two very bad, dangerous bills,” Bloomberg warned. "These are bills that will make the Police Department a lot less effective, divert their resources away from what they’re supposed to be doing, will incur an awful lot of liability costs and will keep us from finding the bad guys."
Intro 1080, which expands the definition of bias-based profiling to include age, gender, housing status and sexual orientation, passed by a vote of 34-17, while 1079, which creates the Inspector General passed, 40-11. Both bill passed with enough votes to override Bloomberg's veto, but the racial-profiling bill only did so narrowly. All Bloomberg and his associates have to do is, ahem, persuade one single Councilmember to reverse course and his veto will stand.
"It was a veto-proof vote last night," Rev. Al Sharpton told the Daily News. "There will be those who will try to pick some of the members off. There will be those that will try to come in and make them turn around. You cannot turn around in the face of history. This is an idea whose time has come." Not if Bloomberg, who has at least on eye on his legacy at all times, has anything to do about it. The Times reports:
With the city’s annual budget already passed, Mr. Bloomberg has lost a major tool of persuasion in his negotiations with council members. But the popular and wealthy mayor still has a sizable arsenal at his disposal, starting with the promise of his future political support, not to mention the traditional carrots and sticks that any City Hall can wield.
Councilman Erik M. Dilan, who kept his decision to support both measures mostly private until he voted with the rest of the Council around 2 a.m., said he had been courted heavily by Mr. Kelly during a nearly 45-minute sit-down several weeks ago in the commissioner’s office at Police Headquarters. He said he later received a “very pleasant” call from the mayor.
The Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association also intends to pressure council members who voted for the measure. "No council member who puts this city at risk will have a free ride in the next election,” PBA President Patrick J. Lynch told the Post. "We intend to target... council members for defeat in the upcoming election, supporting their opponents to the greatest extent possible.” And local precinct commanders also made calls in the days leading up to the vote to urge council members to vote no.
Opponents of the bill argue that the possibility of profiling lawsuits will severely diminish the NYPD's ability to stop potential criminals. But one of the bills' main sponsors, Council member Jumaane Williams, argues, "The profiling bill doesn’t stop the police from stopping people. It just stops profiling.”