Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Council Speaker Christine Quinn may be allies, but they thoroughly disagree on Quinn-backed legislation that would install an inspector general to oversee the city’s police department. Accordingly, before speaking at an unrelated event this morning, Mr. Bloomberg delivered a lengthy speech blasting the bill.
“That’s not an Inspector General; that’s a policy supervisor, and I don’t think any rational person would say we need two competing police commissioners,” Mr. Bloomberg said, according to a transcript provided by his office. “There would be questions in the ranks of police officers about who is really in charge – and whose policies they should follow. That kind of breakdown in the chain of command would be disastrous for public safety.”
Although he didn’t name Ms. Quinn specifically, Mr. Bloomberg accused the bill’s backers of playing “election year politics” with public safety. Ms. Quinn, a candidate for mayor herself, announced her support yesterday, right before attending a mayoral forum on police issues.
“If the Council passes it – and I urge the members to oppose it – I will veto it. We have come too far to forget the lessons we’ve learned. And those who taking our record low levels of crime for granted are making a terrible and tragic and dangerous mistake,” Mr. Bloomberg continued. “We cannot afford to play election year politics with the safety of our city, and we cannot afford to roll back the progress of the past twenty years. Make no mistake about it: This bill jeopardizes that progress and will put the lives of New Yorkers and our police officers at risk.”
Ms. Quinn has defended the legislation as a tool to restrain the New York Police Department’s controversial stop-and-frisk tactic.
View Mr. Bloomberg’s full monologue below:
“David, thank you, and good morning, everyone. I’m very happy to welcome Sabey Corporation to New York City – and I wanted to first provide a little context for this news.
“If you remember, it wasn’t long ago that companies were moving out of New York City – not moving in. And one of the big reasons that they were moving out back in those days was that crime was just out-of-control.
“In 1990, and a lot of people don’t remember back that far but it wasn’t very long ago, more than 2,200 New Yorkers were murdered in our streets, our parks, our subways, and our apartment buildings in one year. New York was the murder and crime capital of the nation back then. People did not feel safe going out in the streets at night – no less riding the subways. Kids carried mugging money. People forget those days.
“Businesses and people were leaving – and the city was just rotting from within. Then Mayor Dinkins and Council Speaker Vallone fought for and won funding to hire thousands of new police officers.
“With that, crime started to come down – and when Rudy Giuliani became mayor and deployed CompStat and adopted a Broken Windows strategy, crime began to fall dramatically.
“When I became mayor, which was about eleven and a quarter years ago, many people thought crime could only go up because it was so low. But thanks to the historic leadership of Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, we have continued to drive crime down even further.
“Last year we set a new record low for murders in the City – and a record low for shootings. We did it by recruiting the most diverse police force in the nation, training our officers in smart and proactive policing strategies. That included targeting criminal hotspots, and stopping, questioning, and sometimes frisking people who may have been engaged in criminal activity.
“Thanks to that work, not only have we prevented thousands of murders and hundreds of thousands of crimes; we’ve prevented the people who would have committed those crimes from getting locked up. That’s why the incarceration rates in our jails are at historic lows.
“At the start of our Administration eleven and a quarter years ago, New York City’s incarceration rate was 13 percent higher than in the rest of the country. In 2011, it was 27 percent lower than the national rate – and 32 percent lower than it was here in ‘01.
“So we’re basically incarcerating a third fewer young people, and that’s good because they don’t learn how to be worse criminals. They don’t get an education in the things we don’t want them to do. They can stay out and become productive members of society, and that shows in the lower murder rate and the lower shooting rate.
“Today we are the safest big city in the nation – and we have one of the lowest incarceration rates. Ten and twenty years ago, I don’t think many people would have believed that that was remotely possible. You would have gotten laughed off the stage if you said we’d be standing here today with these facts. The impact of this work is measured first and foremost in lives saved and tragedies avoided.
“Let me just give you some numbers: if New York City had had the murder rate of Washington, D.C., last year 1,189 more New Yorkers would have been murdered. If in 2012 New York had the murder rate of Chicago, 1,489 more New Yorkers would have been murdered in 2012. To each of these numbers add 400 because that’s what the total murder rate would have been.
“If we had the murder rate of Philadelphia, 1,771 more New Yorkers would have been murdered in 2012. If we had has the murder rate of Baltimore, 2,914 more New Yorkers would have been murdered in 2012. To put it in context, if we had the murder rate of Detroit, last year 4,511 more New Yorkers would have been murdered than were actually murdered. That would have taken the total number of murders to very close to 5,000.
“Now where are we? Let me tell you what happened last week here in New York City. We had one murder. One is one too many, but one murder in a city of 8.4 million people. We are down 30 percent compared to last year’s record low so far this year, and we’re almost a quarter of the way through the year.
“Tampering with the success that we have had in bringing down the murder rates would have been just outrageous, would have been irresponsible and it would have been terribly dangerous.
“The impact of crime-cutting goes even further beyond the lives, though, that we are saving. You can see it all around us: people who are moving here, the families who are staying here, the tourists who are flocking here, and the companies who are investing here.
“None of this is guaranteed to continue. Success in our business is not inevitable, but it does begin with public safety. With safety and security anything is possible. Without it, nothing is.
“The lesson of our city is the lesson we learned the hard way, but it is a lesson that too many people I think today in elected office already seem to have forgotten.
“Over the past year, the greatest Police Department in the world has been subjected to constant attacks from elected officials and special interest groups. The latest example of that was the Inspector General bill currently before the City Council.
“The purpose of this bill, for those of you that don’t know, is not to curtail corruption – because so little exists. Five district attorneys and two U.S. Attorneys oversee the NYPD, as does the Civilian Complaint Review Board and the Commission to Combat Police Corruption.
“At the same time, thanks to Commissioner Kelly, we now devote as many members of the NYPD to the Internal Affairs Bureau as we do to counterterrorism – and we are vigilant about catching the few bad apples and we do hold them accountable. The Internal Affairs Bureau of the Police Department is the Inspector General’s office.
“Around the country, IG’s – as they’re called – IG offices exist within police departments to combat corruption and misconduct, and that’s exactly what our Internal Affairs Bureau does. The FBI’s IG is charged with the same responsibility: combating waste and fraud and misconduct in the FBI.
“But our City Council’s bill would create a new bureaucracy with the power to oversee the policies and strategies – that’s what they say, policies and strategies – adopted by the Police Commissioner.
“That’s not an Inspector General; that’s a policy supervisor, and I don’t think any rational person would say we need two competing police commissioners. There would be questions in the ranks of police officers about who is really in charge – and whose policies they should follow. That kind of breakdown in the chain of command would be disastrous for public safety.
“We need a unified police department with unmistakable lines of accountability. And that means we need a Police Commissioner who is fully accountable to the mayor, who is fully accountable to the voters.
“Together, the mayor and the commissioner set the direction of the Department – and they do not need an unelected and unaccountable official to supervise their policy decisions.
“The bill being considered by the City Council would undermine the accountability that has been essential in the Department’s success – and make our city less safe.
“If the Council passes it – and I urge the members to oppose it – I will veto it. We have come too far to forget the lessons we’ve learned. And those who taking our record low levels of crime for granted are making a terrible and tragic and dangerous mistake.
“We cannot afford to play election year politics with the safety of our city, and we cannot afford to roll back the progress of the past twenty years.
“Make no mistake about it: This bill jeopardizes that progress and will put the lives of New Yorkers and our police officers at risk.
“The success of our Police Department in driving crime to record lows has allowed us to drive the number of jobs in our city to record highs – and so on a brighter note, to show you the effect of low crime, we are excited to be adding even more, thanks to the Sabey Corporation.”