August 23, 2013

The New York City Council has voted to affirm legislation previously vetoed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg that seeks to ban discriminatory profiling within the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk program and establishes oversight over the department.

Photo: Annie Mole via Flickr
Photo: Annie Mole via Flickr

The Community Safety Act includes two pieces of legislation. The End Discriminatory Profiling Act, passed by a vote of 34-15, establishes an enforceable ban on profiling and discrimination by the NYPD and broadens the categories of communities protected to include age, gender, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, immigration status, disability, and housing status, in addition to race, ethnicity, religion, and national origin.

The NYPD Oversight Act, passed by a margin of 39-10, puts department oversight responsibility on the Commissioner of the Department of Investigation. The NYPD does not currently have an inspector general, whose role will be limited to policy recommendations to the mayor and NYPD commissioner.

The override of the program vociferously defended by Bloomberg and NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly comes ten days after it was deemed unconstitutional by a federal judge.

Judge Schira Scheindlin ruled on August 12 that the “stop, question and frisk” program instituted in by the NYPD in 2002 is unlawful, agreeing with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other civil liberty groups that the program has clearly and wrongfully targeted racial minorities. As a result, a federal monitor will be assigned to oversee the stop-and-frisk program.

In addition, Scheindlin has called for a test program in which officers will wear body cameras in high-crime areas.

Scheindlin said she wasn’t putting an end to the practice, but merely trying to reform the way the NYPD carried it out.

“The city officials have turned a blind eye to the evidence that officers are conducting stops in a racially discriminatory manner,” Scheindlin wrote in her opinion. “In their zeal to defend a policy that they believe to be effective, they have willfully ignored overwhelming proof that the policy of targeting the right people is racially discriminatory.”

The lawsuit pertaining to the case, Floyd v. City of New York, was originally filed in 2004.
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