March 5, 2014

De Blasio to drop Bloomberg's challenge to profiling law


New York Mayor Bill de Blasio is dropping a Bloomberg-era legal challenge to a city law that allows people to sue individual police officers for racial profiling.

The law, passed by the City Council in August over then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg's veto, bars "biased-based profiling" for such characteristics as race, creed, gender, sexual orientation and housing status.

De Blasio's announcement Wednesday was yet another about-face at City Hall on policing issues. De Blasio in January said he would settle longstanding litigation challenging the NYPD's stop-and-frisk practice and had made a campaign promise to resolve a civil suit by the Central Park Five -- men who were falsely convicted of rape and imprisoned for years.

In September, the Bloomberg administration filed suit against the City Council on the ground that only state criminal procedure laws -- not city laws -- can regulate police behavior like profiling. De Blasio disagreed.

"No New Yorker should ever face discrimination based on the color of his or her skin. We are going to be explicit in setting fair and effective standards that prevent bias in any form," de Blasio said in a statement.

The president of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, Patrick J. Lynch, said the union would continue its separate legal challenge to the law, which he called "misguided."

"It penalizes our members . . . and the public, rather than addressing bad policies," he said.

The city's chief lawyer, corporation counsel Zachary W. Carter, said the city would represent cops sued under the law who were "acting within the scope of their duties and in conformance with NYPD guidelines."