Monitoring New York City’s Police

Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York and Commissioner Raymond Kelly are apoplectic about a bill pending in the City Council that would create the position of inspector general, an official with broad powers to review the policies of the nation’s largest police department. Given the department’s long history of episodic misconduct, the idea is one whose time has clearly come. The City Council should press ahead with the bill and be prepared to override a veto by the mayor.

Mr. Kelly’s assertion that an inspector general might impinge on law enforcement — or somehow make the city less safe — is utter nonsense. It ignores the fact that inspectors general scrutinize other city departments as well as police departments in other cities and federal agencies like the F.B.I. and the C.I.A. Their job is not to run things but to recommend improvements. The assertion that oversight is unnecessary ignores not only history but also the present — the department’s increasingly problematic stop-and-frisk program. The program is the subject of three federal lawsuits. In Floyd v. the City of New York, plaintiffs argue that the department is stopping and frisking people on the basis of race rather than reasonable suspicion of criminal behavior. 

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This is an editorial from the NYTimes.  Tom

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