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Mayor Candidates Talk Public Safety At Forum

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City Council Speaker Christine Quinn says a deal is in place to create an inspector general to oversee the NYPD, and that plan has quickly become an issue in the race for mayor. The candidates debated crime and public safety at a forum Tuesday night. NY1's Bobby Cuza filed the following report.

When it comes to crime and public safety, there is much the mayoral candidates agree on, such as the need more street cops and tough tactics on illegal guns. But differences emerge on hot-button issues like stop, question and frisk, which most want to reform, but only City Comptroller John Liu wants to abolish.

"The amount of division that this tactic has created between communities and the police has made it less safe for everybody, and that's why I believe that stop-and-frisk has to be abolished," Liu said.

"We cannot abolish it," said Republican mayoral candidate Joseph Lhota. "We need to control it. We need to regulate it."

Asked if they would keep Ray Kelly as police commissioner, only supermarket mogul John Catsimatidis, a Republican, and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn were a firm yes.

"I think that Ray Kelly has been an outstanding police commissioner," Quinn said. "He's taking crime down to levels lower than any of us could ever have imagined was possible."

That answer opened Quinn up to criticism from her Democratic rivals.

"I think it's a truism we all know. You can't teach an old dog new tricks," said Democratic mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio.

To prove she's serious about police reform, Quinn pointed to an agreement on City Council legislation, reached just hours before the debate started, that will create an NYPD Inspector General with strong oversight powers over the department. She also took a swipe right back at de Blasio, who held a press conference to press her on the issue Tuesday morning.

"We didn't have press conferences. We didn't point fingers. We didn't tell other people what to do," Quinn said. "We've done it."

The NYPD and some of the candidates at Tuesday's forum are opposed to the legislation, saying the NYPD already has more than enough oversight, from the five district attorney's offices to the Civilian Complaint Review Board.

Quinn said she also fully expects Mayor Michael Bloomberg to oppose the bill, but is prepared to override his veto.

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