In his first public comments about a City Council plan to create an independent watchdog for the NYPD, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Wednesday that such a bureaucratic position would create confusion about the department's policies. NY1's Bobby Cuza filed the following report.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg seemed to suggest Wednesday that City Council Speaker Christine Quinn is playing politics with a new proposal for an independent watchdog for the New York City Police Department.
"We cannot afford to play election year politics with the safety of our city," Bloomberg said.
Running in a Democratic primary for mayor, and facing pressure from the left-leaning wing of her party, Quinn announced earlier this week that she would advance legislation creating an NYPD Inspector General. She said it was the normal legislative process, and not politics, at play.
"I’m not going to not engage in legislation because it happens to be introduced and existing in the same time of an election year. That would be irresponsible," Quinn said. "It would basically be government going out of business because there happens to be an election."
The inspector general would investigate wrongdoing, but also monitor police policy and strategy. That, the mayor said, is the commissioner’s job.
"I don't think any rational person would say we need two competing police commissioners," Bloomberg said. "There would be questions in the ranks of police officers about who's really in charge and whose policies they should follow. That kind of breakdown in the chain of command would be disastrous for public safety."
NYPD officials are also vehemently opposed to the bill. Like Bloomberg, they argue that the department already has enough oversight from entities that include the five district attorneys, the Civilian Complaint Review Board and the department's own Internal Affairs unit, which has almost as many officers assigned to it as there are to counterterrorism.
That argument was echoed by Republican mayoral candidate Joseph Lhota Wednesday.
"This is just another level of bureaucracy that is being put upon the city of New York, and it's absolutely not necessary," Lhota said.
Still, Bloomberg is believed to favor Quinn for mayor, and, despite the withering criticism, never mentioned her by name Wednesday. He did say he'll veto the bill. Quinn said she'll override it.