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NYPD Oversight Bill Introduced In City Council To Curb Stop-And-Frisks, Police Abuses

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New York City Councilman Jumaane Williams speaks about the New York Police Department's stop and frisk policy, Thursday, June 7, 2012, during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari)
New York City Councilman Jumaane Williams speaks about the New York Police Department's stop and frisk policy, Thursday, June 7, 2012, during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari)

Members of the New York City Council are introducing a bill Wednesday that would create an independent inspector general's office to oversee the NYPD.

Meant to curb an ever growing number of NYPD scandals, including controversy surrounding the department's use of stop-and-frisk and its surveillance of Muslim communities, the "bigger than the FBI" police force seems none too plussed about the proposal.

The New York Times reports NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said the Police Department is “probably under more scrutiny than any other police agency, probably in the world," citing oversight by US attorneys, district attorneys, the Civilian Complaint Review Board, the Commission to Combat Police Corruption, and of course, the department's own Internal Affairs Bureau, which has 1,000 employees. "There's nothing more effective than an internal affairs bureau with teeth," Browne said, calling City Council's proposal "redundant."

Both LA and Chicago, whose police departments are half the size of New York's, have inspector general's offices. In New York, the proposal would give an inspector general-- who would be selected by the public safety and civil rights committees to serve a seven year term-- the power of subpoena. Additionally, the inspector would make regular reports to the mayor's office and city council.

The Civilian Complaint Review Board, argue supporters of the bill, is too poorly funded to be effective. The inspector general's office, they say, would not have that problem.

The bill, similar to one introduced in the New York State Senate in February, is sponsored by councilmembers Jumaane Williams and Brad Lander. Although Mayor Bloomberg-- one of the NYPD's staunchest defenders-- has recently made some tiny concessions to NYPD critics, he is unlikely to support the bill, meaning a veto-proof 34 votes in the City Council will likely be necessary for the measure to become law.

Wiliiams-- one of the city's most outspoken critics of stop-and-frisk-- was thrown to the ground and handcuffed by police officers during the West Indian Day Parade in September for walking on a blocked-off sidewalk after, he says, he was given permission to do so.

On June 7th, Williams led a delegation to Washington D.C. to address Congress and the Department of Justice on the NYPD's use of stop-and-frisks. "We can produce better policing and safer streets for all New Yorkers with reform, which is why my colleagues and I traveled to Washington to sound the alarm. Adding insult to injury, according to the NYPD's own data they have failed the prime objective of lowering shootings, proving the policy is ineffective. I hope Congress will join us and champion the tens of thousands of victims in this city."

While Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly argue stop-and-frisk is an effective tool in fighting crime, critics say it disproportionately targets men of color. 87 percent of the 684,330 NYPD stops in 2011 were of blacks or Latinos.

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