The bill, introduced by council members Brad Lander and Jumaane Williams of Brooklyn, would create an inspector general for the Police Department (NYPD) to ensure that police policies and procedures operate effectively and consistently with the law.
Speakers at the event said the bill is in response to issues surrounding stop and frisks, arrest quotas and other police policies, along with recent reports of the NYPD’s reluctance to file crime reports.
They called the bill historic, as the NYPD is the only major city police department in the country that lacks independent oversight.
“Every government agency needs oversight, especially those that impact public safety, security, and civil liberties,” Lander said of the reasoning behind the bill. “New Yorkers deserve to know their Police Department is doing everything it should to keep them safe, to spend their tax dollars effectively, and to protect their civil liberties.”
The inspector general, to be appointed by the mayor, would have the authority to review police policies, conduct investigations and recommend changes to make the department more effective.
The inspector would also submit regular reports to the commissioner, mayor, city council, and the public about its findings. They would also have subpoena power to compel the testimony of any person and to require the production of documents.
The bill is the fourth piece of legislation to be introduced in the City Council as part of the Community Safety Act.
The act so far focuses on banning racial profiling and unlawful searches by the NYPD, and requires police officers to identify themselves and explain the reason behind a stop and frisk.
“Meaningful oversight is an essential element of any good management, and it is at least as important for a police force as it is for contract agencies,” said Common Cause/NY Associate Director Sam Massol. “The people of New York City deserve to have an oversight body that can hold the largest police force in the country accountable.”