Mayor Eric Adams on Friday vetoed City Council legislation that aims to increase NYPD transparency as to its dealings with the public.
The veto now sets up a showdown between the mayor and the council. Speaker Adrienne Adams said in a statement following the mayor’s announcement that “we are prepared to override this veto,” as the council passed the legislation with enough votes to overrule the mayor.
Hizzoner vetoed two bills — dubbed the “How Many Stops Act” — that the council believes would curtail police misconduct by making cops document lower-level interactions with the public, which they currently are not required to do. The mayor charges that the legislation, which passed the council late last year, would significantly hinder cops’ ability to do their jobs due to the extra paperwork he claims would pile on their desks from having to document significantly more interactions with the public.
The mayor was surrounded by law enforcement brass and community advocates while announcing the vetoes at a City Hall news conference on Friday morning. In his remarks, Adams urged council members to “understand” that his veto is not a political move, but an attempt to halt legislation he believes would leave the city less safe.
“We have to move forward and utilize our manpower and resources to protect the people of the city, not to do more paperwork,” Adams said. “And I’m vetoing this bill today because of that, and I’m hoping that the City Council will understand the place that we are coming from. We’re not coming from an argumentative place. We’re not coming from being disagreeable. We’re coming from a place of public safety. This bill is going to get in the way of that and that will change how we police in the city for decades to come.”
Adams’ main qualm with the bill is its requirement for officers to document the demographics of people they interact with— even when they make stops to ask basic information, in what are known as “Level 1” stops. Currently cops are only mandated to report on “Level 3” stops — otherwise known as “stop, question and frisk.”
Level 1 stops are where officers can ask individuals for information, like their identification or where they are going, as long as the cops have an “objective credible reason.” The legislation would also require cops to record “Level 2” stops, which involve asking “more pointed questions” based upon “founded suspicion that criminal activity is afoot” — which is part of the bill that Adams does not have an issue with.
Adams said reporting on the Level 1 stops would require officers in many instances to guess the demographics of who they are speaking to, while taking them away from conducting investigations.
“Each stop I have to guess their gender, guess their race and other items. And then I have to state why I stopped this person to ask them that question,” he said. “The volume of doing that with every person is what the problem is.”
But the bill’s proponents, including its prime sponsor Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, argue that Level 1 interactions only cover stops connected to police investigations and not any mundane encounter. The bill specifically says that investigative encounters do not include “casual conversations” between cops and civilians.
Additionally, they contend the encounters would not require any paperwork, but rather checking boxes on a smartphone app.
In a statement following Adams’ veto, Williams accused the mayor of spreading “misinformation” about the bill and going further than his pro-policing predecessors Rudy Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg in his opposition to it.
“With this veto, the mayor is threatening New Yorkers’ safety to advance his own ideological and personal political agenda,” Williams said. “Either he is vetoing the bill without reading it, or he has been deliberately deceiving people to scare New Yorkers and justify his dangerous choice. I’m angered by his selfishness.”
Williams specifically called out the mayor’s public campaign against the bill over the past few weeks, which has included his office releasing an animated video illustrating his arguments against the measure.
“This is a basic reporting bill, rooted in what the NYPD is already required to do, and yet the mayor has engaged in the most flagrant misinformation campaign I have seen from any administration in my time in office, misleading both the public and the police,” the public advocate said.
Speaker Adams and newly-appointed Public Safety Committee Chair Yusef Salaam also took the mayor to task, saying he has chosen to “incite fear” and through a “propaganda campaign,” which is “wasting government resources and creating division.”
However, not everyone was against the mayor’s veto.
Council Member Robert Holden, a conservative Democrat representing parts of Queens, applauded Adams in a Friday statement, saying his veto was “absolutely necessary” to maintain public safety.
“It’s unbelievable that such legislation, which clearly undermines our law enforcement and endangers New Yorkers, would even be considered,” Holden said. “The public’s safety is non-negotiable. The public has no advocate in Jumaane Williams.”