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Mayoral Hopefuls Debate NYPD Views At Harlem Forum

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Five Democrats running for City Hall shared a stage in Harlem Tuesday for a debate hosted by the Reverend Al Sharpton where police department reform was the hot topic. NY1's Grace Rauh filed the following report.

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, former City Comptroller Bill Thompson, current City Comptroller John Liu and former City Councilman Sal Albanese are all Democrats running -- or expected to run -- for mayor this year.

The politicians have a lot in common. But there are some significant differences when it comes to the way they view the police department and its practice of stopping and frisking New Yorkers officers argue might be a threat.

Four of them say the stop-and-frisk policy needs to be reformed.

"It is a valid policing tool. But not the way it is being used and overused now," de Blasio said.

Liu stands alone in calling for it to be abolished. He says it is unacceptable that so many people who did nothing wrong are stopped.

"When almost all of those people are black and brown people - people of color. Then you know it is racial profiling," Liu said.

Of those candidates, Quinn is the closest to Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The Reverend Al Sharpton's question about whether the candidates would keep Ray Kelly as police commissioner put her in a tough spot before the crowd. She was booed when she said the next mayor would be lucky to have him.

"Wait a minute. Let me be clear, I think there are things Ray Kelly has done but I believe you can think people have done good things and not agree with everything they have done," Quinn said.

Thompson, meanwhile, went after Bloomberg, his formal rival in the 2009 mayoral election, for his role in the negotiations for a new teacher evaluation system. If the city fails to reach a deal with the teachers union by Thursday the city will lose $250 million in state aid.

"If the mayor wasn't trying to show that he can beat everybody down we would have already had a resolution in the negotiations here. We have less than 48 hours to go. If we pass that deadline it is criminal," Thompson said.

As for Sharpton, it will be interesting to see what kind of role he plays going forward in the mayor's race. In the past he has endorsed and campaigned for his candidate. But now that he is a host at MSNBC, his political activities may be more restricted.

Meanwhile, Thompson has raised more than a million dollars since July, according to figures provided by his campaign on Tuesday.

Following Thompson in fundraising over the last six months are de Blasio, Liu, Quinn and then Albanese.

Many of the potential Republican candidates, including former Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman Joe Lhota, have yet to begin official fundraising efforts.

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