NEW YORK—Just hours after the Justice Department filed an 11th hour brief supporting a federal monitor over the NYPD regarding stop and frisk, Mayor Michael Bloomberg responded to the suggestion.
“We think a monitor would be more even destructive than an inspector general (IG),” Bloomberg said. “It is a terrible idea and not needed.”
Lawyers for the Justice Department filed a 21-page statement of interest in the federal case against the city late Wednesday, the last day to file paperwork. The court papers say the government was weighing in “only in order to assist the court on the issue of remedy, and only should it find that NYPD’s stop-and-frisk practices are unlawful.” It did not say whether it believed the practices to be unconstitutional.
“The department has extensive experience working to ensure that police services are delivered in an effective, constitutional manner,” the Justice Department said in a statement following the court filing. “Our statement of interest is intended to share our experience relevant to fashioning an appropriate remedy, should it be required.”
U.S. District Court Judge Shira Sheindlin is considering whether to order reforms to the police policy after a 10-week bench trial in which a dozen people testified that they were stopped by police solely because of their race.
About 5 million people have been stopped by New York police in the past decade, most of them black and Hispanic men. Lawyers for the four men who sued say hundreds of thousands of those stops were unconstitutional, and they want a monitor to oversee changes to police department training, supervision and policy.
“When you have an organization with life and death, you need clear chains of command without ambiguity,” Bloomberg said. “An IG just sets up the problems of the left not knowing what the right was doing and that can lead to catastrophic consequences.”
The mayor added, “It makes no sense whatsoever when lives are on the line to change the rules and hamper the police department from doing [its] job,” the mayor continued. “They comply with the law. We are 100 percent confident in that.”
As has been his standard defense, the mayor cited record low crime. New York City had 414 murders in 2012, which was a record low. As of June 2, the last date data was available, New York City recorded 129 murders, a 50 percent decrease since 2001.
“We have an obligation to make sure you are safe,” Bloomberg said. “We have to do it consistent with the law and we believe you have done that.”
When asked if he agreed with the idea presented in the brief that it would be easier to fight crime with a monitor, Bloomberg said, “I don’t know what experience they have. We have an enormous amount of experience. We have had a police department for well over 100 years, paid for in blood with a lot of lives of police officers.”
Judge Scheindlin did not say when she would rule but promised it would be timely.
Mayoral candidate Bill Thompson, who has argued for reforms of stop and frisk while on the campaign trail, blasted Bloomberg for standing by the policy. “Instead of treating our police and people with respect, they [Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly] have imposed what are effectively quotas on the police and treated entire minority communities with suspicion,” Thompson said in a statement. “It’s wrong, it’s offensive and it will stop the moment I become Mayor, unless the federal government has stopped it already.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.