For months mayoral candidates have been talking to the press, community leaders and constituents about what policies on community safety would look like under their administration. Early summer saw the New York City Council pass two elements of the Community Safety Act: one bill to expand a ban on discriminatory profiling and give people the right to sue over violations of it, and another creating an inspector general to oversee the NYPD—bills that the mayor vetoed, only to be overridden by the Council.
Here are how the candidates stack up against each on stop-and-frisk, the Community Safety Act, surveillance of the Muslim community and whether to keep Ray Kelly on as police commissioner.
Sal Albanese (D) wants to reform stop-and-frisk by improving academy training, establishing an in-service program to test officers on the constitutionality of stops and devoting more resources to patrolling. “Stop-and-frisk is a valuable police tool, but its application should be amended to ensure that no one is stopped in violation of the constitution,” wrote Albanese in an editorial for The Guardian.
Albanese, in a letter to Speaker Quinn, wrote that while the inspector general bill, Intro 1079, was well intended, it would lack any real independence. “It would also be an extraordinary waste of taxpayer dollars,” he wrote.
The former councilman was also against Intro 1080, the expanded profiling ban. “While Intro 1080 is well-intended, it basically shifts policymaking from the democratically-elected City Council to the courts. That is bad for policing and bad for our communities,” Albanese told Gay Men’s Health Crisis.
At a mayoral forum in May in Manhattan Beach, Albanese said that he would require the NYPD to adhere to the guidelines of the Handschu Agreement, a long-standing set of procedures governing when and how the NYPD can eavesdrop on political groups.
Albanese says that he won’t make any decision on whether or not to keep Ray Kelly until after he is elected mayor.
Bill de Blasio doesn’t want to ban the use of stop-and-frisk but supports reforming the policy. “I disagree with banning it. It’s a policing tactic that’s been widely overused. Obviously in many cases used in an unconstitutional manner,” said de Blasio on MSNBC’s “Up with Chris Hayes.”
De Blasio backed creating an inspector general for the NYPD. “Think about the magnitude here. Hundreds of thousands of more stops a year. There was never a vote on that, there was never a public debate,” de Blasio has said. “We need an inspector general that will be a check and balance regardless of who is mayor,” he said at a mayoral forum in April. De Blasio also supported the expanded profiling ban.
The public advocate says that when concerns about the surveillance of the Muslim community arose, he discussed the issue at length with Kelly and determined that the NYPD had acted in a legal and appropriate manner. He adds that as mayor, he would constantly monitor the program to make sure it was being used appropriately.
De Blasio says he would replace Kelly. “I would seek a new police commissioner that could bring police and community back together,” said de Blasio at a Democratic mayoral debate last month.
Adolfo Carrion (I) told WCBS’s Steve Scout that stop-and-frisk should not be thrown out but must be fixed. “We know is that it’s not yielding the results, that it’s possibly being over-used and it has a severely negative impact on the relationship of communities of color in this city … which are the lion’s share of the people who are stopped and frisked [with] the government and the police force here,” said Carrion.
Carrion supported neither the inspector general bill nor the expanded profiling ban. “Racial profiling is already illegal. Those laws need to be enforced and any citizen who believes they have been discriminated against because of their race, could and should bring a case against the NYPD and the city,” says Carrion’s website. “This duplicative legislation by the City Council is little more than election year political gamesmanship and avoids solving the problem.”
At a mayoral forum in May when candidates were asked to raise their hands if they felt the NYPD’s surveillance of the Muslim community was unconstitutional, Carrion did not. And though he emphasizes his respect for Kelly, Carrion says it is time to open a new chapter, but that he would ask for Kelly’s assistance during the transition.
John Catsimatidis (R) supports the continuation of stop-and-frisk, although he believes improved technology could reduce the need for police to make as many or as intrusive stops. He supports retaining Kelly at the head of the NYPD.
Joe Lhota (R) is adamantly against banning the use of stop-and-frisk. “I will tell you that when it comes to stop and frisk, anyone who recommends the eliminations of stop and frisk is actually putting people in danger. Stop and frisk has helped to reduce crime tremendously over the last 11 years and we must see it through and we must continue the training of police officers so they know the appropriate way to use stop question and frisk,” said Lhota at the 92nd Street Y.
Lhota was also against both Council bills. “An inspector general makes no sense in the city of New York…It’s a waste of time and a waste of money,” said Lhota. “The Community Safety Act is the most misnamed bill I’ve ever heard. It’s making the city of New York not safer, it’s making every community in the city of New York actually unsafe,” Lhota has said.
Lhota, the Jewish Week reported, would continue the NYPD’s surveillance of the Muslim community and told CBS News that he would not be opposed to keeping Kelly on as police commissioner.
John Liu (D) is the only candidate in the race that would abolish stop-and-frisk if elected mayor. He says that there has only been a minimal decrease in murders since the number of stop-and-frisks has gone up and feels it should be abolished.
Liu did not support the creation of an inspector general, arguing it is a distraction. Liu did, however, support Intro 1080, the expanded profiling ban. “There will come a day when stop and frisk is ended, but until then we need laws such as Intro 1080 in order to extend and strengthen New Yorkers’ protections against the kind of discriminatory profiling that is part and parcel of the stop-and-frisk policy,” Liu said in a press release.
Liu has referred to the NYPD’s surveillance of the Muslim community as un-American and would not keep Kelly on as police commissioner.
Christine Quinn (D) would not abolish the use of stop-and-frisk but wants greater oversight in how it is used. “I’ve long said that though I believe it should remain a tool in the toolbox of police officers, that when you have almost 800,000 stops at the peak targeting almost exclusively African-American and Latino men in neighborhoods which are of lower income, that is a problem,” Quinn has said.
Quinn did not vote for the expanded profiling ban, but did support the creation of an inspector general. “You need to have a governmental structure that is constantly asking questions and checking in. That’s why the police department should have an inspector general within the department of investigations so it can it can be slightly more independent than reporting to the commissioner himself. We want them outside of the department, with subpoena power so they can step back and ask big questions about policies and practices,” she has said.
Quinn told Capital New York in April that she believes the NYPD’s surveillance program should continue but that she would need specific details before she would support any expansion. Quinn would keep Kelly on as police commissioner if she were elected.
Bill Thompson (D) says that stop-and-frisk has been misused and abused for years. He agrees with the recent court’s ruling that it is time to reform the use of the practice, and believes training for police officers needs to be improved. Thompson did not support the creation of an inspector general. He said that if he had been mayor he would not have allowed the use of stop-and-frisk to go so far.
Thompson also opposed the expanded profiling ban. “I will reform stop-and-frisk as mayor and protect the rights of New Yorkers. I believe that a new mayor with a new police commissioner can implement policies to ensure that stop-and-frisk is only performed when there is reasonable suspicion that crime is afoot and a cop has reasonable suspicion that he/she is danger or that the suspect has a weapon,” he told the Gay Men’s Health Crisis.
As for the NYPD’s surveillance of the Muslim community. “If they have legitimate leads, absolutely they should follow up on those leads. … But when it comes to targeting a single community because of who you are and what you believe, we are not going to do that under my administration,” said Thompson at a mayoral forum in May. Thompson would not keep Kelly as police commissioner.
Anthony Weiner (D) would not abolish stop-and-frisk. “If someone is acting suspiciously, we think they’re going to commit a crime, a police officer should be able to stop them. But if you’re a cop who’s stopping people and they haven’t done anything wrong, you’re a bad cop and should be fired,” said Weiner to CBS News.
Weiner does not support the creation of an inspector general but says that if he was elected mayor that he would work very hard to reform the way in which stop-and-frisk is used without adding additional bureaucracy.
The former Congressman says that he does not have a problem with the NYPD keeping an eye on suspicious activity regarding the surveillance of the Muslim community, reported Capital New York, although he said in the final pre-primary debate—in response to a question about immigration reform, “Going around and spying on people just because they’re from other countries is actually a way to make us less safe.” Weiner won’t keep Kelly on as police commissioner but says that if Kelly were interested in another position within his administration he might offer it to him.