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Lawmakers reach deal for NYPD inspector general

By JENNIFER PELTZ Modified: March 19, 2013 at 10:10 pm •  Published: March 20, 2013

In a key change, the inspector general would be housed within the city's existing Department of Investigation, which acts as an inspector general for many other arms of the city government, Quinn said.

The proposal originally set up a separate inspector general's office just for the NYPD, and Bloomberg's administration argued that it was both unnecessary and beyond the council's powers. Quinn said she and other lawmakers were comfortable the new plan would survive legal scrutiny.

Bloomberg's office referred calls Tuesday to the NYPD, which said it already gets plenty of oversight from its 700-person Internal Affairs Bureau, a civilian complaint board, a police corruption commission, prosecutors, judges and a 1985 federal court settlement that set guidelines for its intelligence-gathering.

“No police department in America has more oversight than the NYPD,” chief police spokesman Paul Browne said in a statement.

But Quinn countered at a mayoral candidate forum: “You can have a lot of entities, but if they're not getting the job done, then more is needed.”

The NYPD has said that its surveillance of Muslims is legal and that stop and frisk — a technique of stopping, questioning and sometimes frisking people who are seen as acting suspiciously but who don't necessarily meet the probable-cause standard for arrest — has helped drive crime down to record lows and save lives by taking weapons off the street.

Police have made about 5 million stops during the past decade, mostly of black and Hispanic men; critics say the practice unfairly targets minorities. The Supreme Court has said such stops are legal; the current trial concerns whether the NYPD's use of the tactic needs to change.

City Patrolmen's Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch called it a “politically driven” and “unconscionable” waste to spend city money on an inspector general instead of on more police officers. Captains Endowment Association President Roy Richter termed it an added layer of bureaucracy that “would retard the (NYPD's) ability to adapt to the ever changing public safety needs of the city.”

Inspectors general — officials with investigative powers — are a common feature of government agencies, including in law enforcement and intelligence. The FBI and the CIA have such inspectors, as do police forces including the Los Angeles Police Department.

Civil rights advocates say it's time for the same in the NYPD. New York Civil Liberties Union Executive Director Donna Lieberman said her group was gratified that the council appeared poised “to create meaningful oversight and mechanisms to investigate police practices,” but advocates wanted action on the other proposals, too.

Councilmen Brad Lander and Jumaane Williams, who sponsored all the proposals, said they appreciated the “productive negotiations,” but lawmakers needed to go further than the inspector general proposal.

“Any legislative response by the City Council should, at a minimum, prohibit discriminatory policing, based on racial or other profiling,” they said in a statement. “New York will only be truly safe when communities trust the police.”

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