Mayor Michael Bloomberg, upset over two bills passed by the New York City Council curbing the power of the New York Police Department, went on the offensive today during a radio appearance, claiming that the police department stops too many white people and not enough minorities.
“I think we disproportionately stop whites too much and minorities too little,” the mayor said during his regular Friday morning WOR radio show with John Gambling. “It’s exactly the reverse of what they say. I don’t know where they went to school but they certainly didn’t take a math course. Or a logic course.”
The NYPD’s stop-and-frisk policy has been the target of intense criticism from activists in communities of color. The policy is the subject of a federal lawsuit brought by four men who claim they were stopped solely because of their race, along with millions of others stopped in the last decade. A federal judge is currently deliberating the case and is expected to hand down a decision during the summer determining whether to order reforms to the policy and establish the court’s own monitoring. City attorneys have argued all along that the stops were lawful and not based on race alone.
The NYPD has conducted about 5 million stop and frisks in the last decade, with more than 80 percent of those stopped being black or Hispanic and arrests resulting less than 15 percent of the time.
At a raucous, emotional meeting that lasted until the wee hours of the morning, the council earlier this week passed a measure to create an independent inspector general to monitor the New York Police Department (NYPD) over a seven-year period and make recommendations on how it could be improved. Law enforcement agencies such as the FBI and the Los Angeles Police Department have inspectors general.
The council also passed a measure to expand the definition of racial profiling and allows people who believe they have been profiled to sue police in state court. Since Bloomberg had threatened to veto the bills, each bill passed the 51-member council with at least 34 votes, giving them the two-thirds majority necessary to override a mayoral veto.
Bloomberg, repeating a line that Police Commissioner Ray Kelly has used before, said the NYPD’s stops should be compared to the racial breakdown of murder suspects, not the the city’s overall demographics.
“They just keep saying, ‘Oh, it’s a disproportionate percentage of a particular ethnic group,’” Bloomberg said, dismissively. “That may be, but it’s not a disproportionate percentage of those who witnesses and victims describe as committing the murder.”
Bloomberg and Kelly claim the new City Council bills will hamper the police department’s operations, ultimately resulting in more murders across the five boroughs.
“Unfortunately, I can’t give you the list of names of who would have been killed,” Bloomberg said, referring to the city’s record-low murder rate and crediting NYPD tactics like stop-and-frisk. “I suspect if you can get that list from God or something, you’d have a lot of people saying, ‘What are you crazy?’”
According to the Mayor’s office, 90 percent of murder suspects are black or Latino while 87 percent of stops are black or Latino. Whites are 9 percent of stops and 7 percent of murder suspects.