The New York City Police Department could be getting an inspector general, as City Council Speaker Christine Quinn announced Tuesday that there is "broad agreement" on a bill to create such a position.
Critics of the NYPD have been calling for an inspector general to act as a watchdog over the police, but the announcement by Quinn, a leading Democratic mayoral candidate, could give the efforts more momentum.
The NYPD's stop, question and frisk policy, which is now at the center of a federal trial, and the department's practice of spying on Muslims in the tri-state area have both come under intense attack.
Quinn said an inspector general would enhance the effectiveness of the NYPD and increase public confidence in the police force, building stronger police-community relations.
An aide to the speaker said the inspector general would have subpoena power.
There is, however, some confusion about whether this broad agreement means a final deal has been reached. The bill's lead sponsors are not declaring victory just yet, saying in a joint statement only that good progress had been made on the inspector general bill.
NYPD officials released a statement saying in part, "No police department in America has more oversight than the NYPD," and that the department has roughly the same amount of personnel in this Internal Affairs Bureau as in its counter-terrorism efforts.
They also say the NYPD already has independent oversight from the Civilian Complaint Review Board and Mayor's Commission on Police Corruption.
Patrick Lynch, the president of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, says in a statement that the NYPD is the "most restrained police force" in the country and that it "is unconscionable to waste valuable resources on a duplicative bureaucracy like an Inspector General’s Office when we are short 7,000 police officers."
Politics may be at play here. One of the speaker's Democratic opponents, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, held a press conference Tuesday, demanding that the council create an inspector general position with teeth.
"The NYPD stands out as still behind the times on the topic of oversight," de Blasio said. "And the example of the overuse of stop-and-frisk should tell us everything we need to know about the fact that the inspector general is an idea whose time has come in New York City."
Quinn and de Blasio are expecting to say more about a possible inspector for the NYPD, as they will join other mayoral candidates for a debate on public safety at the First Presbyterian Church at 89-60 164th Street in the Jamaica section of Queens.