The mayor and City Council speaker Wednesday vigorously defended their agreement with the NYPD to implement a number of police reforms internally, rather than push through City Council legislation — but the blowback was swift from police reform advocates, who say the changes don’t go nearly far enough. Our Bobby Cuza has that story.
The bill is actually package of City Council legislation known as the Right To Know Act. Backed by a majority of Council members, it would have reshaped police interactions with the public, requiring officers—among other things — to inform people of their right to refuse a search in some cases.
Now, after years of debate, Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito is shelving the legislation in favor of an agreement with the NYPD to implement some of the changes internally.
And reformers, including some Council members and family of those killed by police, are accusing her of undermining real reform.
"Without a real law, we have little to no legal recourse or oversight when the rules are not followed," said Beverly Tillery, an activist with the NYC Anti-Violence Project.
"The chokehold has been banned for decades," said Gwen Carr, the mother of Eric Garner, who died in a police chokehold. "Did they follow it? No. Did they stand accountable for it? No."
But Mark-Viverito is standing her ground.
"I believe that this is the right approach," Viverito said.
Fielding numerous questions on the topic at two separate events Wednesday.
She said the bill’s sponsors were informed throughout the process, and that these changes are more likely to stick and more immediate, with all officers trained within the next nine months.
"There are concerns that the legislation may have been challenged," Viverito said. "Any challenge to any law puts a hold on the implementation of that law. This is going into effect right away."
She was backed by the mayor, who called it a practical way to effect change.
"There’s more than one way to win," said Mayor Bill de Blasio. "We’re going to address the very concerns the City Council had right now in a tangible way that will improve lives in our communities."
Speaker Mark-Viverito said the Council will monitor the progress of the NYPD’s implementation, including holding oversight hearings. And she left open the possibility that pieces of the Right to Know Act could be revived, saying the door is not closed to legislation.