How Many Stops Act: City Council Speaker, Mayor make final push on brink of crucial veto override vote

City Council Speaker Adams and Mayor Adams debate How Many Stops Act
City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams (left) and Mayor Eric Adams.
Photos by Dean Moses

With the City Council set to override Mayor Eric Adams’ veto of the “How Many Stops Act” police reporting bill Tuesday, both council leadership and the mayor made final pitches for and against the measures during Monday interviews and press events.

The council is also set to override the mayor’s veto of another bill to ban the use of solitary confinement in city jails.

City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams on Friday announced she would hold a vote on Jan. 30 to override the mayor’s recent veto of the How Many Stops Act. The council approved the measure with 35 votes — more than enough needed to overrule a mayoral veto — and the speaker said she is “very confident” they will succeed in the override.

“I’m very confident that we came through this legislation with a veto proof majority of council members voting in favor of this bill, so I feel very confident that we will succeed in the override,” the speaker said in an interview with NY1’s Pat Kiernan on Monday morning.

The speaker’s confidence persists even as the mayor last week said some council members told him privately that they would not have voted for the bill if they had “voted their conscience.”

Since the legislation passed late last year, the mayor and council leadership have been locked in a bitter public battle over the measure and its impact. Both sides have accused one another of peddling “misinformation” about what the bills would actually do.

Speaker Adams and Public Advocate Jumaane Williams — the legislation’s prime sponsor — argue it will curtail police misconduct by requiring officers to report demographic data from low-level encounters with civilians. On the other side, the mayor and NYPD honchos charge the measures would jeopardize public safety by burdening cops with reams of additional paperwork that would take them off patrol.

The fight over the measures boiled over on Saturday when newly-minted Harlem Council Member Yusef Salaam (D) abruptly pulled out of an NYPD ride along, organized by City Hall, after being stopped in his car by officers on Friday night without an explanation. The ride along was intended to show council members how much the bills would slow down routine police investigations due to cops having to document far more interactions with the public.

Clearing the air, as they see it

Speaker Adams and Williams say the legislation gives the NYPD complete discretion over its implementation and that it could be as simple as adding a few questions to an electronic form officers already use to document higher-level stops on their department issued smartphones.

“Unfortunately, the administration and the mayor have been putting out the hardest possible way to collect this in order to present fear and confusion to the public,” Williams said during a Monday morning news conference in Brooklyn. “We’re here to correct that, to make sure the public understands this is all a conversation about public safety and transparency and the police department is a part of public safety.”

Public Advocate Jumaane Williams held a press conference to rally support for his police transparency legislation a day before the City Council is set to override a mayoral veto of the measures.Photo by Ethan Stark-Miller

The speaker echoed the same point on NY1, saying that given the NYPD’s technological resources, it should be able to meet the bills’ mandates without overburdening officers.

“[The] NYPD is the most technologically savvy police department on the planet,” the speaker said. “We don’t have the authority to dictate how policy is implemented, so if paperwork is the measure of choice for the NYPD, that will be their choice, not because the council says that this is the way this bill has to be implemented.”

Point of contention

The mayor’s main gripe with the legislation is its requirement that officer’s assess the race and gender of those they stop to ask for basic information — known as “Level 1” encounters. Those stops occur when cops with an “objective credible reason” ask civilians for information like their identification or where they are going — interactions where people are free to walk away at any time.

At present, officers only have to record that information for stops where they have a “reasonable suspicion” that someone is about to commit a crime, known as “Level 3” stops or “stop, question and frisk,” as well as encounters above that level.

Cops already record all public interactions on their body-worn cameras.

The mayor and the NYPD charge that the definition of Level 1 is too broad and encompasses millions of stops, which would inevitably lead to cops losing time on the beat.

Mayor Adams — in his own Monday interview with WNYC’s Brian Lehrer — pushed back on the speaker’s and public advocate’s arguments, insisting that even with the easiest process in place, the time cops spend documenting each encounter would significantly increase their workload. To illustrate his point, Mayor Adams referenced a Queens stabbing incident that officers responded during the ride along with council members on Saturday night.

“We knocked on and communicated with 1,000 people we had to interview and so at a minimum that’s 3,000 extra minutes, 49 hours, two full days in time,” the mayor said. “So when you talk about one individual incident, no, that doesn’t take a long time. But when it’s the [accumulation] of many different incidents and times … it impacts that officer doing his job.”

However, Williams countered that the bill does not require cops to fill out the information while they are conducting an investigation, but instead, whenever is most convenient.

“I think he was trying to show that there are times where police officers would not be able to fill out any forms right at that moment in time, we already knew that. It’s only been the mayor and the administration saying they would have to do that,” Williams said. “We have said I don’t know how many times, ‘don’t do that, you should do it when you do it now, which is whenever is easiest for you, either right after the stop or the end of the tour.’”