By Noreen O’Donnell
NEW YORK (Reuters) – New York City Michael Bloomberg on Tuesday vetoed two measures meant to curb the city’s controversial stop-and-frisk policing policy, setting up a likely showdown with the City Council.
Bloomberg called the bills dangerous and irresponsible and said they would make the city less safe.
One measure would create an independent inspector general to monitor the New York City Police Department. The other would expand the definition of racial profiling and allow people who believe they have been profiled to sue police in state court.
Bloomberg has defended the policy of stopping, questioning and frisking suspected wrongdoers to fight crime.
Opponents of stop-and-frisk, among them minority groups, civil libertarians and some of the Democratic mayoral candidates, have said police officers disproportionately target young black and Hispanic men.
Each of the measures, together called the Community Safety Act, passed the 51-member City Council with the two-thirds majority necessary to override a veto.
City Council members who back the measures vowed to override Bloomberg’s vetoes.
“The Community Safety Act will help us make New York a place where everyone can walk the streets without fear of violence or discriminatory policing,” said Democratic council members Jumaane Williams and Brad Lander. “We look forward to overturning Mayor Bloomberg’s veto and making this legislation law.”
Bloomberg argued that the first measure would create not an inspector general but an official who would rival the police commissioner on law enforcement policy and strategy.
“The consequences would be chaotic, dangerous, and even deadly for our police officers and for our city,” he wrote. The second, he said, would unleash an avalanche of lawsuits against the police department.
Communities United for Police Reform, an organization that advocates an end to the stop-and-frisk policy, said it was disappointed by the vetoes, which it called “misguided.”
“New York City must outlaw racial profiling and all discriminatory profiling,” it said in a statement.
One of the Democratic mayoral candidates, Bill de Blasio, said Bloomberg was turning a blind eye to racial profiling.
“I believe we need a real change, and encourage City Council members to stand by their votes and override the Mayor’s veto,” he said in a statement. “Our young men cannot afford for us to waver in the face of intimidation from City Hall.”
(Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst, Toni Reinhold)