A tale of four districts

July 4, 2013 Denise Romano
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The City Council passed the Community Safety Act last week, which contains two sets of bills that deal with often controversial topics regarding the New York City Police Department.

One bill approves the creation of an inspector general for the NYPD. This includes, “investigating, reviewing, studying, and auditing of and making of recommendations relating to the operations, policies, programs and practices of the New York City Police Department by the Commissioner of the Department of Investigation.”

The other deals with the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk policy. The bill prohibits bias-basedprofiling.

Although the bills passed the Council with flying colors, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said that he will veto them, although sources say that there are enough Council votes to override his veto.

There were some councilmembers close to home who opposed the bills. Councilmember Vincent Gentile, who represents Bay Ridge, parts of Bensonhurst and Dyker Heights, and Councilmember Domenic Recchia, who represents parts of Bensonhurst, Gravesend and Coney Island, were among those who voted against both bills.

Gentile told this paper that he voted against the bills because they would essentially take away some of the City Council’s power. When it comes to stop and frisk, Gentile contended that the issue has already been dealt with during City Council hearings.

“As a result of the hearings, the focus of how stop-and-frisk can be done properly was on the table. The NYPD re-examined the procedure and has reduced the number of stop-and-frisks and also revised their training,” Gentile explained. “The City Council hearing has been effective in addressing the issue…it served the purpose it was supposed to serve.”

Gentile added that an NYPD inspector general would “give away some of the power that the City Council now has. We now have that oversight and have the authority to ask other agencies to help us look into any investigation we would like to,” he said. “What that bill was trying to establish is something we already have in place.”

Councilmember David Greenfield, who represents Boro Park, Midwood and parts of Bensonhurst voted for the inspector general bill and against the stop-and-frisk profiling bill.

“I think the inspector general is something that every major, important organization in the U.S. has, including the IRS, FBI and the CIA has them,” Greenfield contended. “I think it will improve the NYPD and make it better and New Yorkers safer.”

But the councilmember contended that the language in the stop-and-frisk legislation can open up lawsuits against individual police officers, instead of the NYPD as a whole.

“There are lots of good cops who are trying to do their job and opening them up to lawsuits is not fair, in my opinion,” Greenfield said.

However, Councilmember Sara Gonzalez, who represents Sunset Park, parts of Bay Ridge, Red Hook and Windsor Terrace, voted in favor of both bills – causing her to lose the endorsement of the Detective’s Endowment Association.

“[Police officers] provide a vital service to our communities. With that being said, the best interest of my constituents is my only concern,” Gonzalez said. “This legislation will make the communities I have lived in all my life, raised my family in, and served for decades as a public health advocate, community board chair, and councilwoman, safer and fairer. I am proud to have voted for them, and will proudly cast my vote to override Mayor Bloomberg’s veto.”

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