(The Center Square) — New York City police officers will be required to document nearly every interaction with the public under a law approved by the City Council over the objections of Mayor Eric Adams, who says the new transparency requirements will jeopardize public safety.
On Tuesday, the Council voted 49-2 to override Adams’ veto of the How Many Stops Act, which will require the nation’s largest police department and its 36,000 officers to document all investigative encounters with the public, including controversial stop and frisks. It requires NYPD officers to record the race, gender, age of people they stop in low-level encounters and their reasons for stopping them. The data will be made available to the public.
Counselors also overrode Adams’ objections to a bill that would do away with the use of solitary confinement for prisoners being held on Rikers Island and in other city jails.
Council President Adrienne Adams said the chamber responded to “decades-long calls from communities most impacted by police stops and the harmful legacy of stop-and-frisk, to deliver much-needed transparency to policing and advance true public safety for New Yorkers.” She said the ban on solitary confinement will “advance a new approach to reduce violence and prioritize safety for both staff and those detained.”
“As government, we have a responsibility to do right by New Yorkers who have been persistently harmed and failed by these unjust policies,” the Democrat said in a statement. “We are proud to override the mayor’s vetoes and hold our government accountable for delivering transparency and true safety to all New Yorkers.”
Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, who introduced both proposals, praised the council’s decision to override Adams’ vetoes. He said the How Many Stops Act would provide “basic information on how policing practices are in effect on our streets, and craft public safety policy moving forward,” while eliminating solitary confinement would “make both our jails and our city safer.”
“I hope that now that these vetoes have been overridden, the administration will stop wasting time with its deliberate misinformation and work with us on the most streamlined, effective way to implement these bills, instead of undermining public safety with falsehoods and fear mongering,” Williams said in a statement.
But Adams strongly criticized the council’s override of the bills, saying it would make New York City’s streets and jails “less safe.”
“These bills will make New Yorkers less safe on the streets, while police officers are forced to fill out additional paperwork rather than focus on helping New Yorkers and strengthening community bonds,” the Democrat said. “Additionally, it will make staff in our jails and those in our custody less safe by impairing our ability to hold those who commit violent acts accountable.”
Backers of the How Many Stops Act say the requirements are aimed at reducing racial profiling by the NYPD. But the measure met with pushback from law enforcement officials and state prosecutors who said it would bury police officers under a mountain of paperwork and increase overtime while doing little or nothing to reduce crime.
A coalition of more than 60 business organizations — including the New York City Partnership and Times Square Alliance — had urged the council president not to approve the measure, saying the “negative consequences” of the bill “far outweigh any positive intentions.”
Counselors overrode Adams’ objections on Tuesday with a veto-proof margin, meaning the issue is unlikely to come back before them for consideration.
Patrick Hendry, president of the New York City Police Benevolent Association, said despite his disappointment over the council’s action, NYPD officers will comply with the new rules.
“Despite the increased workload and the NYPD’s critically low staffing levels, we will continue to protect our communities to the best of our ability,” he said in a statement. “Ultimately, it will be City Council members — not PBA members — who must answer for rising 911 response times and diminished police presence in our neighborhoods.”