New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly has warned the City Council that an anti-racial-profiling bill — expected to be voted upon Wednesday — could end the use of security cameras in high-crime neighborhoods and lead to an increase in crime.
"This would permit disparate-impact lawsuits not only against the practice of stop, question and frisk, but against any police activity, operation, policy or program, including the use of police cameras in your district as well as in New York City Housing Authority developments," Kelly said in a letter to the council.
"We have counted on you as a supporter of cameras in keeping public-housing developments and neighborhoods safe from crime, and we need your support for police cameras now more than ever," Kelly added, according to the New York Post
Kelly was concerned the bill would open police officers and the department up to a flood of lawsuits.
"The bill would allow virtually everyone in New York City to sue the Police Department and individual police officers over the entire range of law-enforcement functions they perform," Kelly said.
"Please help us keep this important crime-fighting tool available to the Police Department," he concluded. "Your action against this bill . . . will save lives."
Kelly has allies in Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the NYPD Captains Endowment Association Union President Roy Richter, who has been part of an ad campaign
against the proposed policy change.
The racial-profiling bill would keep police from using descriptions of suspects beyond the color of their clothing.
"It will ban cops from identifying a suspect's age, gender, color, or disability," Richter said, which could open cops to lawsuits if they do so and is why he thinks it is so dangerous.
The two Democratic councilmen from Brooklyn who co-sponsored the bill, Jumaane Williams and Brad Lander, argue that it amends the current, 2004 racial profiling-law, by adding the homeless and gay people to the protected demographic classes.
Williams supports the use of cameras by NYPD and says the department should be able to continue using them without racially profiling individuals.
"I have funded cameras in my district and I'm not going to put in a bill that would take away those cameras," Williams said.
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