Police Transparency In NYC: City Council’s Overriding Of Mayor Adams’ Vetoes Widely Applauded

Photos: YouTube Screenshots

Tuesday, the New York City Council voted to override Mayor Eric Adams’ veto of Intro 586 of the How Many Stops Act (HMSA) with a supermajority of votes.  The passage of the How Many Stops Act will bring urgent and necessary transparency about formerly unreported categories of stops – referred to as level 1 and 2 by the NYPD – which constitute the vast majority of the NYPD’s formal “investigative encounters” with civilians. Thanks to citywide organizing led by those most impacted by the NYPD’s abusive practices – and the leadership of City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams and lead sponsors Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, Council Member Alexa Avilés and Council Member Crystal Hudson – the City Council passed the How Many Stops Act at the end of 2023 with broad support. It was endorsed by the City Council’s Black, Latino, Asian Caucus (BLAC), the Progressive Caucus, 100+ national and local organizations, and 28 family members of New Yorkers killed by the NYPD. Mayor Adams vetoed the bill earlier this month after he partnered with the NYPD to wage a misinformation campaign to distort the bills.

“This is a historic win for our movement and New Yorkers, especially against the backdrop of a massive misinformation campaign waged by the mayor and NYPD,” said Loyda Colón (they/them), spokesperson for Communities United for Police Reform (CPR) and Executive Director of the Justice Committee. “We applaud the City Council for enacting the How Many Stops Act, in spite of the mayor and NYPD’s non-stop lies, and thank council members for following the leadership of New Yorkers who are directly impacted by the NYPD’s racist and abusive practices. The How Many Stops law will give us a more complete picture of the NYPD’s racial profiling and abusive police actions and is an essential step towards true community safety. Council members who voted to enact the legislation over the mayor’s veto should be commended for putting the needs of their constituents first, instead of bowing to the illegitimate power and baseless fear-mongering of the NYPD.”

With stop-and-frisk at an all-time high since 2015, police misconduct claims up by 51%, and millions of NYPD stops going previously unreported, the How Many Stops Act will make transparent where, when, why and key demographic information about who the NYPD is stopping on a daily basis. Bill lead sponsors Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, Council Member Alexa Avilés, Council Member Crystal Hudson, other elected officials, families of New Yorkers killed by the NYPD, community groups and advocates celebrated the City Council’s override of Mayor Adams’ veto as a historic win for police transparency.

In spite of the overwhelming support for the How Many Stops Act, Mayor Adams vetoed this common sense, good government legislation on January 19th after waging a misinformation campaign with the NYPD and police unions, in an attempt to block the legislation.

“Mayor Adams lied to the families of people killed by the NYPD, the media and New Yorkers when he promised police accountability and transparency on his campaign trail and he lied about the How Many Stops Act,” said Iris Baez, mother of Anthony Baez (killed by NYPD in 1994). “He has shown that he cares more about protecting the NYPD and their abusive practices than he does about New Yorkers, but today, we shut down the lies. The families thank the City Council for standing with us and all New Yorkers by overriding the mayor’s veto.”

“For us families who have lost loved ones to the NYPD, the fight for the How Many Stops Act was never about politics,” said Samy Feliz, brother of Allan Feliz (killed by NYPD in 2019). “It is a fight for the safety and well-being of New Yorkers – especially in communities like mine, where police violence and harassment is increasing under Mayor Adams. The How Many Stops Act is not the only change we need to ensure no more families like mine have to suffer, but is an essential one and today, a broad coalition of families, organizations, and policy-makers defeated the mayor and NYPD’s misinformation campaign and enacted it into law.”

Prior to the passage of HMSA, the NYPD was only required to report on level 3 stops, commonly known as stop-and-frisk. Almost 90% of the stops the NYPD was required to report were Black and Latino/a/x New Yorkers. Communities that have been most impacted by the NYPD’s unconstitutional stop-and-frisk practices and racial profiling have been calling for the level of transparency the How Many Stops Act will provide for years. The passage of HMSA will bring urgent and necessary transparency about formerly unreported categories of stops – referred to as level 1 and 2 by the NYPD – which constitute the vast majority of the NYPD’s investigative encounters with civilians.

“The How Many Stops Act is the baseline transparency that New Yorkers deserve, that families affected by police violence have been advocating for, and that Mayor Adams promised he would enact on the campaign trail,” said Council Member Alexa Avilés, lead sponsor of Introduction 586-A. “It’s the baseline transparency New Yorkers are owed from an agency that is given resources that rival the annual defense budgets of some countries. After years of data showing civilian complaints against officers are on the rise and rampant unconstitutional stops as integral to the tactics of the Department’s Neighborhood Safety Teams, the New York City Council is stepping in at a crucial moment to course correct. Thank you to Communities United for Police Reform, to my co-lead Sponsor Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, and Speaker Adams and her team. True public safety means putting an end to discriminatory and unconstitutional policing. Overriding this veto brings us one step closer to doing just that.”

Research on Stop & Frisk indicates that surveillance and constant forced interaction with the NYPD inflicts harm and real emotional distress, overwhelmingly on Black and Latine New Yorkers, as well as other communities of color, LGBTQ/GNC people, immigrants, homeless people, religious minorities, low-income people, and youth. Advocates for the How Many Stops Act assert that this critical legislation will help to address the NYPD’s chronic underreporting of stops, ensure officers are only making stops with the proper legal justification, identify patterns of abuse so the city can make informed decisions about what future changes that are needed, and set the stage for increased NYPD accountability for unconstitutional, abusive and racially motivated enforcement practices.

“Today, the Council answered 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,” said Speaker Adrienne Adams. “By collecting and disclosing data on investigative stops, the How Many Stops Act will bring forth a fuller picture of these encounters, fostering accountability and trust between the police and the communities they serve. The Council was also proud to override the Mayor’s veto to ban solitary confinement in city jails and 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. We are proud to override the Mayor’s vetoes and hold our government accountable for delivering transparency and true safety to all New Yorkers.”

“The Council’s successful override of the mayor’s veto of Intro 586, part of the How Many Stops Act,  is a testament to the governing body’s commitment to pursuing and delivering just policies for the benefit of all New Yorkers,” said Council Member Crystal Hudson, lead sponsor of Intro 538, the second bill in the How Many Stops Act.“The passage of this legislative package, and Intro 586 in particular, will bolster the civil liberties of New Yorkers across the five boroughs and help cultivate a stronger relationship between the NYPD and our communities, one predicated on trust and integrity. This bill will provide the public and lawmakers alike with a complete and honest accounting of the way the police interact with our neighbors, helping us target and address the ugly vestiges of stop-and-frisk policing that are once again appearing in the communities we represent. I am proud to be a part of this Council, to have cast my vote for this historic package, and I look forward to ensuring that these laws are implemented and upheld faithfully.”

Numerous organizations applauded the overriding of Mayor Adams’ vetoes.

“Thank you to all the City Council members that had our community’s back and voted to override the mayor’s veto,” said Marcos Larius, youth member of Make the Road New York. “Now with the How Many Stops Act in place, we will have much needed information on police interactions within our communities, a step towards accountability & true community safety. WE keep us safe in NYC.”

“We applaud the City Council for displaying the leadership needed to secure the How Many Stops Act over the Mayor’s campaign of fearmongering and misinformation,” said Donna Lieberman, Executive Director of the New York Civil Liberties Union. “The How Many Stops Act sets the stage for a more transparent approach to policing in New York City, moving us closer to police accountability and community safety.”  

“The New York City Council’s override of Mayor Adams’ veto of Intro. 586 will ensure greater oversight of the NYPD. This transparency is needed to ensure the safety of Black and Latinx New Yorkers who are heavily impacted by the NYPD’s unconstitutional and racially discriminatory policing practices,” said Samah Sisay, Staff Attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights.

“Ten years into the NYPD monitorship, Black New Yorkers are still disproportionately harmed by police encounters that intrude upon their everyday lives,” said David Moss, LDF Justice in Public Safety Legal Fellow. “All New Yorkers deserve justice and equity in our public safety system. The How Many Stops Act brings us closer to that vision, and we commend the City Council for overriding the mayor’s veto and passing it into law today.”

“Our elected officials have a responsibility to reflect the wills and wishes of the people. El Puente is happy to see that the City Council has continued to listen to the voices of New Yorkers and maintained its commitment to passing the How Many Stops Act,” said Donavon Taveras, Community Organizer, El Puente.

“Now codified into law, the How Many Stops Act will bring much needed transparency and accountability over the NYPD by providing New Yorkers a complete picture of all NYPD street stops and investigative encounters,” said Tina Luongo, Chief Attorney of the Criminal Defense Practice at The Legal Aid Society. “We laud City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams and Council Members for taking this necessary step to override Mayor Adams’ veto. We hope that this finally settles this issue, and that the Administration will fully implement the laws. However, should the Administration refuse to do so, we will consider judicial intervention to ensure that the How Many Stops Act lives up to its full intended promise.”

“The Arab American Association of NY is thankful for the City Council’s decision to override the veto of the How Many Stops Act. This veto override shows courage to stand with our communities. The HMSA will provide much needed data on police activity in communities interacting with the public, and compliance with the Right to Know Act. AAANY welcomes this veto override as the first step to holding police accountable and protecting our communities from misgovernment,” said Maryam Khaldi, Coalition Organizer, Arab American Association of NY.

“The decisive action taken by the New York City Council to override the mayor’s veto marks a historic step towards transparency and justice in our policing system. This victory not only upholds the democratic process but also amplifies the voices of our communities in demanding accountability and racial equity in law enforcement,” said Lurie Daniel-Favors, Esq, Executive Director, Center for Law and Social Justice at Medgar Evers College (CLSJ).

“Last year I was subject to a pre-text stop in the 107th precinct, an action that was part of the NYPD’s discriminatory practice of targeting Black and Brown New Yorkers. Asserting my rights led to the precinct unlawfully reporting me as an Emotionally Disturbed Person to deliberately delay the arrest process and elevate the encounter from a desk appearance ticket. With Mayor Adams emboldening and encouraging these abuses, the How Many Stops Act is an essential tool for transparency and accountability, and I commend the City Council for overriding his veto,” said Victor Herrera, member of Freedom Agenda.

“We applaud the Council for overriding the Mayor’s veto of the How Many Stops Act,” said Yasmine Farhang, Director of Advocacy with the Immigrant Defense Project. “For immigrant New Yorkers for whom abusive and discriminatory policing further risks ICE detention and deportation, it is critical that we shine light on the NYPD’s daily activities.”

“Unlawful stop-and-frisk searches have spiked under Mayor Adams, and 97% of those stopped have been Black or Latino. The How Many Stops Act brings welcome transparency to the NYPD by shining a light on chronically underreported stops. We commend Speaker Adams and the New York City Council on overriding the Mayor’s veto and ensuring that our city has the proper data to inform public safety policy,” said Ana María Archila, Co-Director of the New York Working Families Party.

“The How Many Stops Act was one of the most critical criminal justice reform measures that The Gathering for Justice has had the privilege to support over the last year. The ability to ensure transparency of NYPD’s activities, and accountability for NYPD officers is a game changer, and we are thrilled that our City Council stood fast to their values, and to the belief that this bill will increase public safety and lead to transformative change throughout the system,” said Carmen Perez-Jordan, President and CEO of The Gathering for Justice.

“We need good data on how New York communities are impacted by policing to prevent abuses,” said Cody Bloomfield, Communications Director at Defending Rights & Dissent.  “With the vote to override the veto on the How Many Stops Act, the Council has taken common-sense first steps towards holding the NYPD accountable.”

About Communities United for Police Reform

Communities United for Police Reform (CPR) is an unprecedented campaign to end discriminatory policing practices in New York, and to build a lasting movement that promotes public safety and reduces reliance on policing. CPR runs coalitions of over 200 local, statewide and national organizations, bringing together a movement of community members, lawyers, researchers and activists to work for change. The partners in this campaign come from all 5 boroughs, from all walks of life and represent many of those most unfairly targeted by the NYPD.

 

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