Kristin F. Dalton
Staten Island Advance, N.Y.
The City Council passed a number of NYPD reform bills on Thursday, adding to the growing list of measures that have been put in place under the order of both the governor and the mayor.
None of the measures passed unanimously.
One of the measures, which passed by a vote of 39-10 requires the NYPD to give up its crash investigation duties and pass it to the city Department of Transportation (DOT). Councilmen Steven Matteo ( R-Mid-Island) and Joseph Borelli (R-South Shore) voted against the bill; Councilwoman Debi Rose (D-North Shore) voted in favor of the bill.
Another measure, which supports a bill already in the state legislature, would require new NYPD officers to live within the five boroughs. It passed with a vote of 42-7.
The mayor’s overall plan to reform the NYPD passed by a vote of 40-10, but with some amendments; Borelli and Matteo voted against, while Rose voted in favor.
That plan was put forward in response to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s demand last year that police departments across the state put forward a plan to reform their departments by April 1 or else lose state funding.
The sweeping package of police accountability measures received new backing following protests of George Floyd’s killing, including one allowing the release of officers’ long-withheld disciplinary records.
Some say the slate of reforms are making it near-impossible for the NYPD to do its jobs, while change advocates say the measures aren’t doing enough.
The police unions say the measures are an attack on police officers.
NYPD MUST ISSUE QUARTERLY REPORT ON ALL VEHICLE STOPS
Sponsored by Queens Councilwoman Adrienne Adams, Intro. 2224-A, mandates the NYPD issue a report each quarter detailing all vehicle stops made by NYPD officers. The report would also need to include data on arrests, seized vehicles, summonses, and any incident involving search or an officer’s use of force.
All data must be broken down by ethnicity, race and age.
It passed by a vote of 43-6. Matteo and Borelli voted against the bill; Rose voted in favor of the bill.
IMMUNITY PROVISION ALLOWS LEGAL ACTION FOR UNREASONABLE SEARCH AND SEIZURE
Sponsored by Brooklyn Councilman Stephen Levin, Intro. 2220-A ends qualified immunity for police officers, which gives officers an exemption for civil lawsuits unless proven by the plaintiff that the officer’s action directly violated civil rights.
The council’s legislation gives “a local right of security against unreasonable search and seizure,” in addition to excessive force.
It passed by a vote of 37-11. Matteo and Borelli voted against the bill; Rose voted in favor of the bill.
RESOLUTION PASSED ASKS STATE TO STRIP SHEA OF FINAL DISCIPLINARY POWER
Also passed by the council was a resolution, Intro. 2212-A, sponsored by Bronx Councilwoman Vanessa Gibson, urging the state legislature to remove Police Commissioner Dermot Shea of his final say in police disciplinary cases.
It passed by a vote of 39-11. Matteo and Borelli voted against the bill; Rose voted in favor of the bill.
Shea has the final say in cases even though they are brought before the Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB).
“Providing the CCRB with final disciplinary authority would lead to greater police accountability and ensure New Yorkers have a disciplinary process that, from start to finish, is totally independent from the police department,” CCRB Chair Fred Davie said.
Shea argued against the resolution, saying that removing his final say on disciplinary cases could lead to officers returning to work who shouldn’t.
“Ask any police chief that doesn’t have the final say on discipline and you will find a chief who has had officers returned to duty that shouldn’t have been and in many of those cases more acts of misconduct by an officer the chief wanted to fire,” Shea said.
Adding, “No other city agency uses that system, nor does the FBI, the Secret Service, or the Marines. There is a reason for that. You need to know where the buck stops.”
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