Mayor de Blasio announced several new police reforms Friday that aim to end racial bias in policing and hire more cops who live in the city.
The reforms — the second part of a three-part plan de Blasio intends to submit to the state by April 1 — include efforts to remove city policies that contribute to the “poverty to prison pipeline,” focus more attention on officers’ disciplinary records during the promotion process and strip police of their pensions if they’ve engaged in serious misconduct.
“It is going to be immensely challenging work,” said de Blasio, who’s final term at City Hall ends in December. “It’s going to take not just the NYPD, but every part of city government.”
The mayor’s plan aims to address the connection between poverty and incarceration by examining government policies that could be changed or eliminated to reduce the number of poor people who are imprisoned.
Some of the policies up for review include how the city issues summons and the racial disparities that exist in giving them out, housing discrimination based on someone’s criminal record and access to public transportation for those who can’t afford it.
A city task force will lead that effort and will include the new Schools Chancellor Meisha Ross Porter.
Two new proposals that almost immediately drew the police union’s ire are de Blasio’s plan to give preference to NYPD job applications submitted by city residents and his call on the state government to pass a law that would allow the city to strip cops of their pensions in the most serious instances of misconduct.
PBA President Pat Lynch didn’t take long to fire back, saying cops need to be paid a “fair market wage” and warning of the precedent it might set if the city is allowed to go after police pensions.
“Our public sector union brothers and sisters should be very concerned about the mayor’s plan to tamper with civil service laws that protect most city and state workers,” he said. “If police officers can be suspended indefinitely without due process and stripped of their pensions, why not teachers or nurses?”
Some reform advocates also blasted the plan.
“This isn’t a plan that will decrease police violence or increase accountability,” said Communities United for Police Reform spokesperson Loyda Colon. “It’s a plan that will expand the NYPD’s already bloated budget and outsized power.”
De Blasio’s announcement stems from an edict issued by Gov. Cuomo several months ago. Last summer, Cuomo issued a mandate requiring that cities submit police reform plans to the state no later than April 1 or risk losing state funding and the possibility of a monitor overseeing their police departments.
His order came after the death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis cop and after protests roiled New York and other cities throughout the U.S. in response.
Last week, de Blasio released the first part of his reform plan, which includes provisions to strengthen the Civilian Complaint Review Board and expand the role of violence interrupter programs.
The final version that will be submitted to the state is also expected to include reforms proposed by the City Council, which has called for taking final authority over NYPD disciplinary matters away from the commissioner, limiting immunity for cops in civil court proceedings and requiring future commissioners be confirmed by the Council.
Shea acknowledged the need for greater accountability Friday and said it was one of the main concerns voiced in encounters he’s had with many New Yorkers.
“They know that police have a tough job, but when police make mistakes, there’s absolutely a feeling, particularly in some neighborhoods, that police won’t be held accountable,” he said. “You can’t ignore that if that many people are saying it, you better look in the mirror and say what can we do better?”