Christine Quinn Public Safety Proposals Trigger Backlash
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn presented a series of proposals aimed at continuing the public safety record enjoyed by the Bloomberg administration.
Speaker Quinn’s five-point strategy, delivered at a speech at Hunter College on Wednesday, included:
• Increasing the size of the police force by 1600 officers
• Expanding the use of mobile cameras
• Developing a mobile panic button app to alert police in the area
• Expanding juvenile robbery intervention program
• Introducing counterterrorism training to the city’s Department of Sanitation, Transportation, and the MTA
Quinn showed support for the package of bills known at the Community Safety Act, which was introduced into the City Council several months ago. The bill’s intent was to ease tensions over the controversial policy of stop, question, and frisk.
One of the bills would create an Office of the Inspector General. This measure has come under fire by Mayor Bloomberg, however Quinn has continued to support it.
“The Inspector General will not pose any kind of threat to the authority of the Mayor or the Police Commissioner,” Quinn said. “As much as we need to continue to improve trust and accountability, it’s critical that we avoid anything that would damage the Department’s ability to keep us safe.”
Quinn did not support the measure in the bills that would ban racial, religious, and gender identity profiling. She said she had zero tolerance for the practice, however she could not support the new regulations because it would open the NYPD up to more lawsuits.
“I believe this presents a real risk that a multitude of State Court judges issue rulings that could take control of police policy decisions away from the Mayor and Commissioner,” Quinn said. “I believe these risks could lead to a fragmentation of oversight and policy making for the police department that could be detrimental to the safety of our city.”
The NYPD currently has three lawsuits in court over stop, question, and frisk.
The backlash over the comments was swift.
“No other city in the United States has implemented racial profiling policies on as wide a scale, or taken it to such destructive levels as Commissioner Kelly’s NYPD,” said NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous in a statement. “Speaker Quinn must understand that these excesses must be reigned in if she wants the support of New York’s communities of color.”
“Discriminatory profiling by the police doesn’t work, wastes resources, violates civil rights and distracts from solving and preventing crime,” said Kevin Finnegan, Political Director, 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, the largest healthcare union in New York and the nation, in a statement. “We need both an Inspector General to safeguard against unfair police practices, and also the ability for individual plaintiffs to bring suits against policies that discriminate on the basis of race, religion, age, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, immigration status or other protected categories.”
Speaker Quinn will be at a mayoral forum hosted by NY1 on Wednesday evening discussing public safety.