A New York City Council hearing on the NYPD's stop-and-frisk program on Thursday culminated with two council members engaging in a heated back-and-forth exchange.
The Brooklyn Ink reports Harlem Councilman Robert Jackson was discussing the recent discovery of an audio clip recording three police officers unnecessarily stopping a Harlem teenager and calling him a "f**king mutt" during a routine frisking.
After Jackson proposed making changes to the practice, Queens Councilman Peter Vallone, who's also the Chairman of the Public Safety Committee, said council members should avoid making long speeches.
Councilwoman Helen Foster of the Bronx then accused Vallone of making his own time-consuming speeches. When Vallone attempted to respond, Foster shot back, "I don’t work for you. I am not one of your boys. You will not talk to me like that." Capital New York caught the exchange on video:
The hearing lasted for six hours and discussed four bills collectively referred to as the Community Safety Act, three of which deal directly with reforming the way police conduct stops. The bills, according to The New York Times, would:
- Require police officers, when conducting stops, to identify themselves, provide their name and rank, and explain the reason for the stop.
- Seek to add teeth to an existing ban on racial profiling.
- Require that officers inform individuals of their right to refuse a search and obtain proof of their consent, if granted, in cases in which there is no other legal basis to search an individual.
A fourth bill would create an office of the Inspector General, which would oversee the NYPD. Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and Vallone have all voiced opposition to the Inspector General bill.
Bloomberg was not present at the hearing and sent one of his counsels, Michael Best, in his stead. According to Gothamist, Best repeatedly said that the "proposals were 'legally infirm' and 'curtailed' the mayor's power," without giving much explanation.
The NYPD had no representation at the hearing.
Councilman Jumaane Williams from Brooklyn, a vocal opponent of the NYPD's stop-and-frisk policies, was the chief sponsor of the bills.
As for City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, a likely mayoral candidate in 2013, she again refused to comment on whether she is favor of the bills. She did express, however, concerns that the stops disproportionately affected blacks and Latinos. The NYPD's use of stop-and-frisks, she said, were "a danger to good policing and a danger to keeping our city safe."