2013-06-21 / Columnists

From The Councilman

End Stop and Frisk? Don’t Drink the Kool-Aid
By Councilman Eric Ulrich

ERIC ULRICH ERIC ULRICH Who needs stop and frisk? The murder rate is at an all-time low, felony crimes have plummeted 75 percent and New York is deemed the safest big city in America. New York is not the place it used to be, and for good reason. Law enforcement has made significant gains in fighting crime throughout the five boroughs thanks in part to proven and effective police methods such as stopand frisk. Stop and frisk has helped drive crime to historic lows, removed thousands of illegal guns from city streets and contributed to the overall renaissance of our great city.

But critics abound. Some argue stop and frisk violates civil liberties and unfairly targets people of color and minority communities. In fact, the City Council will consider legislation aimed at curbing the number of stop and frisks by establishing an office of Inspector General to oversee the Police Department.

Several candidates for Mayor are even on the record stating they would end stop and frisk tactics altogether. Clearly, not everyone is happy.

Elected officials, and those aspiring to public office, should be mindful of the fact that they are supposed to make decisions that are in the best interests of all New Yorkers. Instead, there seems to be a lot of pandering going on, especially by the media and the regular NYPD detractors who were never really fond of the NYPD to begin with. Establishing the office of Inspector General suits no purpose other than to make it more difficult for cops to do their job and to pacify the professional police critics.

The NYPD already has a tremendous amount of oversight. First there is the Commissioner, Ray Kelly, a no-nonsense veteran of the department who has served in 25 different commands before being named Police Commissioner. While he technically serves at the pleasure of the Mayor, he is uniquely held accountable for the performance and conduct of the men and women of the department. There are also five District Attorneys and two U.S. Attorneys who each have legal jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute crimes committed by elected and appointed officials as well as government employees

(that includes cops). People who believe they were violated in any way by a police officer can also file a complaint with the Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB). In addition, The Internal Affairs Bureau (IAB) roots out the bad apples from within the department and the Commission to Combat Police Corruption (CCPC) was created in 1995 as a permanent board to monitor and evaluate the NYPD. The Commission is completely independent of the NYPD.

Police corruption is a serious issue and any officer who breaks the law or abuses his/her position should be held accountable. However, adding another layer of bureaucracy will do little to curtail the rare instances of police misconduct. In fact, police officers take an oath to serve and protect the people of this city and risk their own lives so that we might live more freely.

Instead of people trying to police the police or make it more difficult for them to do their job, they should be thanking them for a job well done. Most cops are dedicated and grossly underpaid. Their Long Island counterparts, on the other hand, earn much higher salaries and deal with considerably less harassment.

New York has come a long way. I support the NYPD and want them to have every tool and resource at their disposal to keep our streets safe. Now is not the time to turn back.

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