Mayor Adams says he hopes city probe of NYPD’s social media use will look at council members’ posts

Mayor Adams speaks about city probe of NYPD social media
Mayor Eric Adams said he hopes the city Department of Investigation probe into the NYPD’s social media also looks into what he calls City Council members’ ‘brutal’ treatment of his administration. Tuesday, May 14, 2024.
Caroline Rubinstein-Willis/Mayoral Photography Office

Mayor Eric Adams on Tuesday said he hopes the city Department of Investigation (DOI) probe launched last week into the NYPD’s use of social media will also look at what he characterized as some City Council members’ “brutal” treatment of city employees.

But DOI’s investigatory power for public officials is limited to cases of “fraud, corruption and other illegal activities,” according to its mission statement. That differs from its Inspector General for the NYPD — the unit investigating the department chief’s social media posts, which is charged with probing and making recommendations on the NYPD’s “operations, policies, programs and practices.”

Hizzoner, during his weekly news conference, said some City Council members, whom he did not name, should face scrutiny for the way they have criticized members of his administration — including police officers. The comment came after a reporter asked him to respond to the DOI Inspector General for the NYPD’s investigation that commenced last week, which is looking into whether top NYPD brass’ aggressive use of their X accounts to “push back” against perceived critics of the department violates city laws or policies.

“It just can’t be that you’re just going to be brutal to city employees,” Adams said. “I mean, the way some of them have treated those city employees who have stayed up nights dealing with the migrants and asylum seeker crisis, they’ve just been constantly brutal to them. So I’m hoping everybody gets scrutinized and see how do we just have a code of conduct on how we interact with each other.”

Citing one example, the mayor took umbrage with council members who have called some administration officials “fascists.” 

While the mayor did not name names, far left Council Member Tiffany Cabán (D-Queens) recently posted on social media that the NYPD’s move to restrict press access during its crackdown on pro-Palestinian protests at Columbia University late last month amounted to “fascism.” Another progressive council member, Chi Ossé (D-Brooklyn), posted to X last year that the NYPD robot being piloted in the 42nd Street subway station at the time is a “fascist R2D2” — referring to one of the robots from Star Wars.

Last week, Adams took issue with the way City Council Member Lincoln Restler (D-Brooklyn) sharply questioned his head of intergovernmental affairs, Tiffany Raspberry, and criticized the city’s chief equal employment opportunity officer, Melody Ruiz, in a couple of recent council hearings.

‘A sad attempt to distract’

NYPD Chief of Patrol John Chell
Chief of Patrol John ChellPhoto by Dean Moses

A City Council spokesperson responded, “This is a sad attempt to distract from the fact that some NYPD executives’ troubling use of social media to attack elected officials, journalists, and members of the public is unprecedented and dangerous. The Council looks forward to reviewing the results of the investigation by DOI’s Inspector General for the NYPD.”

The council has also pointed out that elected officials are expected to express their opinions, as it’s part of their job — whereas appointed NYPD executives are supposed to operate as apolitical actors.

When asked about the mayor’s comments, DOI spokesperson Diane Struzzi said “DOI is reviewing all of the communications from all parties involved in these exchanges, as well as their historical context, and other context, and all policies applicable to the same.” However, Struzzi declined to clarify if “all parties” include council members.

Backing Chell, Daughtry

Adams also defended the NYPD leaders under investigation for their online behavior, Chief of Patrol John Chell and Deputy Commissioner for Operations Kaz Daughtry, arguing they are simply responding to attacks from council members against the department.

“I think [for] far too long, they have been able to be brutal and no one has challenged them,” the mayor said. “Chief Chell and Commissioner Daughtry were saying ‘listen, y’all need to stop attacking these officers who are putting their lives on the line.’ And these guys are saying that it’s not acceptable anymore.”

DOI launched its investigation into NYPD brass’ social media use following requests from City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams and the Legal Aid Society last week. The speaker’s request came after a since-deleted post from Chell blasting City Council Member Tiffany Cabán (D-Brooklyn) for criticizing the way the department went about breaking up pro-Palestinian encampments at Columbia University and the City College of New York late last month.

The spat between the mayor and the council over the NYPD’s social media presence is just the latest instance of the two sides of City Hall butting heads over the past year. They have also fought over issues including the mayor’s management of the city budget, his handling of the migrant crisis and his refusal to implement laws expanding access to housing vouchers.