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New York, NY - AP Analysis: Backlash For NYPD As Bloomberg Era Ends

Published on: August 24, 2013 10:39 PM
By: AP
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FILE - New York City councilman Jumaane Williams  speaks during a rally on the steps of City Hall, Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013 in New York. New York City council members say they will make history with a vote to override Mayor Michael Bloomberg's vetoes on police oversight bills. At a rally on Thursday before the vote, activists cheered and held signs that read "override." (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)FILE - New York City councilman Jumaane Williams speaks during a rally on the steps of City Hall, Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013 in New York. New York City council members say they will make history with a vote to override Mayor Michael Bloomberg's vetoes on police oversight bills. At a rally on Thursday before the vote, activists cheered and held signs that read "override." (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

New York, NY - They took responsibility for keeping New York City safe in the aftermath of Sept. 11. And for years, their approach was seen as nearly beyond question, as the threat of terror attacks was kept at bay and the crime rate fell to record lows.

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Now, as Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly near the end of Bloomberg’s tenure, a backlash against the street stops and surveillance programs they call cornerstones of building “America’s safest big city” has added a tone-changing last chapter to the narrative of policing New York in the past 12 years.

A federal judge this month gave credence to years of complaints that the New York Police Department has stopped millions of people in a racially discriminatory way, ordering a monitor to oversee sizable changes. A City Council that scaled back a 2004 anti-racial profiling law this week voted to make it easier to sue over profiling claims and established a watchdog to investigate police procedures, defying Bloomberg vetoes.

Bloomberg is appealing the court ruling and signaled he will sue to try to block the profiling legislation, but those prospective challenges may not be resolved before he leaves.

Is it a defining episode or a footnote in the administration’s public safety history? That will be up to the next mayor, New Yorkers’ memories and what unfolds in the courts and on the streets, observers say.

“We may have reached an historic point — depending upon what happens,” said William Eimicke, a Columbia University public affairs professor who was a deputy city fire commissioner from 2007 to 2010.

Bloomberg is clear about how he sees his policing record. And he warns that the recent calls to rein in stop and frisk might only prove his policies were right.

“It’s been almost 12 years now where people have walked the streets of New York City without having to look over their shoulder. I suspect that’s a pretty good legacy,” he said after the court decision. Break the NYPD’s embrace of stop and frisk, he admonished successors, and “be responsible for a lot of people dying.”

Terrorism was the top safety concern when Bloomberg took office in January 2002, reappointing Kelly to the commissioner’s job he’d held from 1992 to 1994. They set about sculpting a muscular antiterrorism operation with more than 1,000 officers, some sent overseas to gather information.

Building on a drop in street crime that started under Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Bloomberg and Kelly stepped up the use of statistics to pinpoint crime hotspots and flood them with officers. The mayor became a national voice on gun control. And they upped emphasis on stopping, questioning and sometimes frisking people seen as doing something suspicious but not plainly arrest-worthy: 97,296 stops in 2002 rose to 685,724 in 2011, dropping to 533,042 last year.

There were flares of tension, including over mass arrests of demonstrators during the 2004 Republican National Convention and the 2006 shooting of an unarmed bridegroom on his wedding day.

But overall, the message many New Yorkers heard was one of foiled terror plots and America’s lowest big-city crime rate, as measured by the FBI. Killings repeatedly hit the lowest points on record and are on track for another record low this year.

Kelly has enjoyed the highest approval ratings of any city official.

Still, over the last two years, long-rumbling complaints about stop and frisk became a roar amplified by the mayoral race. The extent of the NYPD’s surveillance of Muslims came to light when The Associated Press detailed tactics that included infiltrating Muslim student groups and putting informants in mosques, disclosures that partly fueled the City Council legislation.

Bloomberg and Kelly went on the offensive, denouncing the practices’ critics and portraying the stakes in ominous terms. “Remember what happened here on 9/11,” Bloomberg chided in one speech.

Some New Yorkers wondered at the officials’ combativeness.

“It’s a shame Kelly’s been so hostile” to the court and council moves, said Karen Lalor, 38, an upper Manhattan home care worker who considers the commissioner generally “a reasonable man.”

It was a fight the powerful mayor and popular police commissioner seemed not to imagine they could lose. But at least for now, they have lost their campaign to stop new checks from being imposed on the NYPD at a time when last impressions can count.

“There’s been a giant shift in the sentiment that was generally very hands-off on policing in New York City and now is very hands-on. ... Kelly and Bloomberg came in as crime fighters, and they may be going out as racial profilers,” even if the image is unfair, said Eugene O’Donnell, a John Jay College of Criminal Justice professor.

Besides the courts, the next mayor will shape how the push for NYPD oversight plays out, including by choosing a police commissioner.

Early in the mayoral race, criticisms of Kelly were few. But some candidates now hail plans to rein in stop and frisk and replace him. Others, though, laud him and the policy.

Ultimately, Bloomberg and Kelly’s counterterror and crime rate successes may be what’s remembered, for better or worse, said police history expert Tom Reppetto. Especially if it’s for worse.

“After this administration leaves, the public will say, if there’s a terrorist attack or crime starts to go up ... ‘It would never have happened if Kelly were here,’” he said.

Queens resident Eliza Irving feels the Bloomberg administration has focused too much on stop and frisk and given police too much power.

“I don’t feel safer because of his policing policies. In fact, I feel less safe,” said Irving, a 23-year-old high school teacher.

But John Rivera thinks back to being in the city on 9/11. The account manager lives in the suburbs but is concerned for the safety of the city where he works every day, and he still welcomes seeing the NYPD’s added presence when threat levels are raised.

Bloomberg and Kelly “haven’t done the best job,” he said, “but they’ve done a fair job.”


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Read Comments (13)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Aug 24, 2013 at 11:56 PM Liepa Says:

The only ones afraid of 'Stop & Frisk' are the criminals themselves!

2

 Aug 25, 2013 at 12:05 AM yosher Says:

A police state generally has close to no crime (one wouldn't dare!). Russia and Hitler could also make the claim that they reduced crime. Our constitution recognized that the most severe potential for criminality is to be found in government and therefore, severely limited government's power. Bloomberg is a benevolent despot; the next despot may be far less kind. Bloomberg has endagered us all by his constant disregard for democracy's limitation ( i.e. his third term) and for our constitution ( search and frisk). Good riddance.

3

 Aug 25, 2013 at 12:40 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #2  
yosher Says:

A police state generally has close to no crime (one wouldn't dare!). Russia and Hitler could also make the claim that they reduced crime. Our constitution recognized that the most severe potential for criminality is to be found in government and therefore, severely limited government's power. Bloomberg is a benevolent despot; the next despot may be far less kind. Bloomberg has endagered us all by his constant disregard for democracy's limitation ( i.e. his third term) and for our constitution ( search and frisk). Good riddance.

Despite all your ramblings, 'Stop and Frisk' allows you and your family safer streets!
Complain about 'Stop and Frisk' at your own risk!

4

 Aug 25, 2013 at 01:47 AM DemsBeBabies Says:

Reply to #2  
yosher Says:

A police state generally has close to no crime (one wouldn't dare!). Russia and Hitler could also make the claim that they reduced crime. Our constitution recognized that the most severe potential for criminality is to be found in government and therefore, severely limited government's power. Bloomberg is a benevolent despot; the next despot may be far less kind. Bloomberg has endagered us all by his constant disregard for democracy's limitation ( i.e. his third term) and for our constitution ( search and frisk). Good riddance.

As a libertarian, I do agree with you up to a point. It is a police tactic used everywhere, and does not fall foul of the constitution, as long as there is a reason for said stop. The Court upheld the basic procedure in the late 60's. If the procedure is being done without regard to the law, then a lawsuit on civil rights violations is in order. getting rid of a procedure which has factual statistical proof to actually keep minority communities safer is plain stupid! these people are in public places, and usually up to no good. if they are stopping little old ladies, or kids on their way to school, the procedure shouldnt be changed, the cops should be, preferable one with brains

5

 Aug 25, 2013 at 04:31 AM OPTIMIST Says:

In short "New York wants crime".

6

 Aug 25, 2013 at 08:55 AM glat-e-kup Says:

time to go to canada

7

 Aug 25, 2013 at 09:14 AM Shlomo-1 Says:

Reply to #1  
Liepa Says:

The only ones afraid of 'Stop & Frisk' are the criminals themselves!

Afraid? Maybe. But innocent people don't like being stopped and frisked by the cops, especially if the only thing that makes them suspicious is the color of their skin.

8

 Aug 25, 2013 at 10:31 AM Liepa Says:

Reply to #7  
Shlomo-1 Says:

Afraid? Maybe. But innocent people don't like being stopped and frisked by the cops, especially if the only thing that makes them suspicious is the color of their skin.

Statistics have proven that 'Stop and Frisk' has eliminated many dangerous weapons from the streets of New York City, not to mention drugs and arresting people with outstanding warrants against them.
Yet individuals like you don;t appreciate the deterrent effect on crime this has had.

Well you can't have it both ways, either safer streets for you and yours or back to the Wild West of yesteryear!

9

 Aug 25, 2013 at 11:28 AM enlightened-yid Says:

Reply to #8  
Liepa Says:

Statistics have proven that 'Stop and Frisk' has eliminated many dangerous weapons from the streets of New York City, not to mention drugs and arresting people with outstanding warrants against them.
Yet individuals like you don;t appreciate the deterrent effect on crime this has had.

Well you can't have it both ways, either safer streets for you and yours or back to the Wild West of yesteryear!

Please cite these statistics. Because not a single academic study of NYPD program was able to prove any correlation between stop and frisk and "elimination" of weapons. Not even NYPD can produce convincing reports about their stop and frisk. You support it because it does not affect your neighborhood and your children. If NYPD attempted stop and frisk on your people, you would be screaming Nazi Germany every day.

10

 Aug 25, 2013 at 03:25 PM To Liepa-#8 Says:

There has never, and I mean never, been a published study by the NYCPD, or any other governmental agency, at the federal, state, county, and municipal level, which clearly shows a definitive correlation between a drop in reported crime rates, and stop and frisk. There are many crimes which take place indoors, and are otherwise unreported. This nonsense about "safe streets", because of stop and frisk, is a fallacy. When Bloomberg leaves, Kelly must go with him. Many people don't realize that when Ray Kelley was Commissioner of U.S. Customs, that federal agency was forcibly giving enemas to American citizens of color, who were coming back from Caribbean vacations. They performed that illegal procedure (while the victims were chained), in an effort to extract narcotics in balloons from their system, which they suspected they were smuggling. In fact, many innocent victims were caught up in that sting. All of this went on, under the leadership of Ray Kelly. To this day, he has never denied that such an operation took place.

11

 Aug 25, 2013 at 06:17 PM Liepa Says:

Reply to #10  
To Liepa-#8 Says:

There has never, and I mean never, been a published study by the NYCPD, or any other governmental agency, at the federal, state, county, and municipal level, which clearly shows a definitive correlation between a drop in reported crime rates, and stop and frisk. There are many crimes which take place indoors, and are otherwise unreported. This nonsense about "safe streets", because of stop and frisk, is a fallacy. When Bloomberg leaves, Kelly must go with him. Many people don't realize that when Ray Kelley was Commissioner of U.S. Customs, that federal agency was forcibly giving enemas to American citizens of color, who were coming back from Caribbean vacations. They performed that illegal procedure (while the victims were chained), in an effort to extract narcotics in balloons from their system, which they suspected they were smuggling. In fact, many innocent victims were caught up in that sting. All of this went on, under the leadership of Ray Kelly. To this day, he has never denied that such an operation took place.

Yes, fighting crime 'aint for the faint of heart. But we're talking saving peoples lives by taking illegal weapons and dangerous vermin off the streets BEFORE they ever get a chance to hurt, maim, rape or even kill you and/or yours. Think about that Liberal FxxL!

12

 Aug 25, 2013 at 06:31 PM Liepa Says:

Reply to #9  
enlightened-yid Says:

Please cite these statistics. Because not a single academic study of NYPD program was able to prove any correlation between stop and frisk and "elimination" of weapons. Not even NYPD can produce convincing reports about their stop and frisk. You support it because it does not affect your neighborhood and your children. If NYPD attempted stop and frisk on your people, you would be screaming Nazi Germany every day.

On the contrary, this has been proven very convincingly by the NYPD.

The lower crime rate the City of New York is experiencing isn't by happenstance!

You need to seriously wake up and smell the coffee and maybe you'll get enlightened!

13

 Aug 26, 2013 at 02:24 PM Cynic Says:

To Liepa-#12- The NYCPD has never conclusively proved that the alleged lower crime rate, is solely because of their stop and frisk. I state alleged, because I know for a fact that the NYCPD fudges certain precinct crime reports. I used to work at the 78th precinct, and I remember one detective who would clear dozens of burglary reports by stating "It was determined that an individual arrested for burglary (one burglary), was responsible for the other burglaries". There was no way for that detective to know the above for a fact; it was an outright lie; yet, the NYCPD would routinely accept that nonsense every month, pertain to the monthly "crime" statistics.

14

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