The dispute involving city police powers seems to have focused on the stop-and-frisk procedure the police have been using for the last several years as a way of deterring crimes before they are committed. A lot of controversy has been generated over this matter.
The latest development is that the leading Democratic candidate for mayor, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan), is proposing a bill to create an inspector general sub-office within the police department, to investigate police practices within the department such as stop-and-frisk.
There seems to be strong opposition within the Police Department itself over creating such a sub-unit that would take positions for and against department policy.
One argument against the new sub-unit indicates it would create two police leadership commands. There would be continual friction and disagreement between the two, which would lead to a weakening of the rank-and-file police force.
Police could not be sure as to which leadership command to follow. The last time our city had a jurisdictional dispute involving the police force was in the 1850s during the term of Mayor Fernando Wood. During that time the state Legislature established its own police force for New York City called the Metropolitan Police Force, which Wood controlled as his own municipal police department.
It led to chaos. There were some cases of physical violence between the two opposing police forces.
It is unlikely anything like this could happen today, but a strong and effective police force means a well-disciplined and unified command.
That is true of all city departments of government, but it is especially true of the police department. That is because the police are a semi-military unit.
Over the years, New York City has had a reputation for having one of the best police forces in the country. Hopefully, that reputation will continue.
If the inspector general unit is put in place, it could lead to constant friction between the police department leadership and the inspector general’s office. That could lead to the state courts getting more involved in deciding disputes between the two leadership police groups. That type of situation would not be in the best interest of our city and its citizens.
When Mayor Michael Bloomberg first became mayor, he did away with the city Board of Education and, with the aid of the city schools chancellor, proceeded to set policy for the city public school system. Now we have a proposal by the leader of the Council to change the structure of the Police Department.
The city police force has endured for a long time in its present condition and has done well, especially during the last 20 years.
It is to be hoped that the Council will reject anymore calls to adopt a police inspector general.
With term limits in place, there are going to be a lot of open seats for the Council this year, as well as for mayor. We will have a new city government in 2014.
©2013 Community News Group
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