We share the concerns expressed by City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. of Astoria over an anti-police bill sponsored by Brooklyn Councilman Jumaane Williams and hope the measure gets nixed fast.
Williams is no friend of the Police Department, despite all the work its members have done in the past 20 years cutting down on the violent crime that has plagued so many parts of the city, especially largely minority areas like the one he represents.
Vallone, however, the chairman of the Public Safety Committee, does support the NYPD. And he’s also a friend of the taxpayer, in this case looking to save the city what he estimates would be at least $1 billion a year if the Williams bill becomes law. He calls it “the most dangerous and irresponsible bill ever to be considered by the City Council.”
The measure would make it easier for those who claim they were wrongly stopped and frisked by the police to sue the city, the department, even the individual officers carrying out their duty. It will be the subject of a public hearing next month, but unfortunately, it has wide support in the council so far.
We understand the concerns of those who think police wrongly stop too many minorities. But the fact is that about 90 percent of both the victims and perpetrators of homicides in the city are black or Latino. And most of these killings occur in poor neighborhoods, such as South Jamaica and the eastern Rockaways, where minorities make up most of the population. It only makes sense that police would check more people for weapons in areas like those in Queens rather than in, say, Forest Hills or Malba.
Regardless, the answer is not to bankrupt the city and further hamstring the police at a time when crime is ticking up again after a two-decade decline. The taxpayers are already facing a fiscal cliff due to skyrocketing pension and Medicaid costs, as well as the government’s insistence on constant growth even as services are cut. And the police already face enough pressure and potential for violence on the streets every moment of the day — and they’re already reforming how stops are conducted.
This bill must be defeated.