Tempers flare during City Council hearing on 'stop and frisk' bills
Fireworks erupted Wednesday between City Council members in front of a cheering crowd of police critics as elected officials weighed in on reforming the NYPD's "stop and frisk" practice.
Councilwoman Helen Foster chastised Councilman Peter Vallone, who chairs the Public Safety Committee, after he told her and other council members not to give "long speeches" about the community's issues with the controversial practice during a committee hearing.
"I don't work for you. I am not one of your boys. You will not talk to me like that," said Foster (D-Bronx), as the dozens of "stop and frisk" opponents who packed City Hall applauded.
Vallone (D-Astoria) had earlier criticized the four bills that the council is considering that would force officers to tell people why they were stopped and prevent cops from doing the frisks based on race.
One bill would also create an inspector general for the NYPD.
Critics say the NYPD's "stop and frisk" is a form of racial profiling since the majority of the 686,000 people stopped last year were minorities and not charged or summoned.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, both of whom did not appear during the hearing, have defended the practice and rejected the ideas behind the proposals.
Michael Best, the counselor to the mayor, reiterated the mayor's stance when testifying Wednesday.
Best said all of the measures were unnecessary because the police already have oversight with state and federal laws as well as the NYPD's own internal affairs bureau.
The bureau "is far larger than any of the city's inspectors general, with a staff of approximately 700," he said.
Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who hasn't officially supported the bills, questioned Best's reasoning for his opposition. She noted the mayor signed legislation in 2004 that banned police from racial profiling, bolstering similar state rules.
"How could the mayor have signed that and not this?" she asked.
The four bills have enough co-sponsors to pass in the council but it is unclear if they will get the two-thirds majority needed to override an expected veto by the mayor.
Vallone said there is no timetable for when the bills will be brought for a vote.
Wednesday, the courts dealt the city a legal blow when they denied its appeal against a federal judge's decision to approve a class-action lawsuit against the NYPD by four black men who said they were stoppedbecause they were racially profiled.