The NYPD already has Internal Affairs—does it also need an Inspector General to keep watch over the department's conduct? Councilmembers Brad Lander and Jumaane Williams certainly think so—they introduced legislation today that would create just such a position for the NYPD. And they're not alone: Williams and Lander were joined by twenty other Councilmembers and various advocacy groups who say the NYPD is in desperate need of independent oversight and increased transparency.

The proposed legislation is largely in response to NYPD misuse of stop-and-frisk and blanket surveillance of Muslim communities in NYC and NJ. “Every government agency requires meaningful oversight,” Lander said today at a City Hall press conference. “Without meaningful, independent oversight, problems develop and fester." Bloomberg will likely veto the bill, but the sponsors are confident they have the necessary two-thirds votes to override it.

The Councilmembers seek to differentiate between the work of this new office and that of other parts of city government that monitor the NYPD, such as the Civilian Complaint Review Board. The CCRB was recently given $1.6 million to improve its ability to monitor and prosecute NYPD officers. The difference, according to NYCLU Advocacy Director Udi Ofer, is that an inspector general would have greater scope and capabilities than other groups. "The CCRB focuses on individual acts of misconduct,” Ofer said. “The only fair comparison [to an inspector general] is the Committee to Combat Police Corruption, which is a mayoral committee. They have no subpoena authority.”

However, like the CCRB of a few months ago, the inspector general would be toothless, having no power to prosecute and would only put out reports recommending that the NYPD take certain actions. And the NYPD isn't exactly known for taking recommendations: For example, just 151 of the 2,078 officers whom the CCRB singled out for severe punishment between 2002 to 2008 were actually given that punishment by the NYPD. "An IG is not a panacea,” Lander said. "An IG can’t change the policies of the police department."

So what's the point? That's what NYPD spokesman Paul Browne wonders. "It may sound good to the sponsors on paper, but it appears to the department to be just redundant,” Browne tells the Times, arguing that NYPD Internal Affairs is already getting the job done. "There’s nothing more effective than an Internal Affairs Bureau with teeth." Critics, however, say Internal Affairs has lost its dentures.

Nypd IG Bill Final 6.8.12