The Obama administration waded into the fight over stop-and-frisk Thursday, when the U.S. Department of Justice is suggesting that a federal monitor be placed over the NYPD should the controversial practice be found unconstitutional, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg was quick with the criticism. NY1's Josh Robin filed the following report.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg says President Barack Obama's Department of Justice is risking New Yorkers' lives.
"The one thing where you have an organization where it's life or death, you have to have clear responsibility, clear chains of command with no ambiguity whatsoever," Bloomberg said.
He said chains of command and record dips in crime would be undermined if Attorney General Eric Holder has his way. DOJ officials suggest a monitor, if a federal judge finds the New York City Police Department's stop-and-frisk procedure unconstitutional. The case could be decided any day.
Its brief says, "[T]he appointment of an independent monitor would be essential to ensuring that the New York City community has confidence in the reform process."
"I don't know what experience they have. We have, on the streets of New York City, we have enormous amount of experience. We had a police department that's been around for well more than 100 years, paid for in blood," Bloomberg said.
The mayor said crime went up after monitors were put in place in Philadelphia. That city agreed to new regulations and oversight in June 2011.
A Philadelphia police department spokesperson was unaware of any study assessing their impact on crime rates.
Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly are said to be irate that they were not given more time to make their case before the federal Justice Department. But publicly at least, the mayor would not talk about it.
"When they're private discussions, we never talk about them," the mayor said.
Holder is traveling, and his office referred questions to the brief it filed. It says its experience is a monitor "improves public confidence, makes officers' jobs safer and increases the ability of the department to fight crime."
Baher Azmy, the legal director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, brought the stop-and-frisk suit against the city, and also believes the police need monitoring.
"The only way real police reform happens is through an independent monitor," said Azmy. "The issue of the city being safer, there's no evidence, none whatsoever, connecting that to stop-and-frisk."
That contention draws sharp disagreement from the mayor.