Public safety was the topic for last night’s first televised debate between New York City’s Democratic candidates for mayor, meaning the candidates had plenty of material to hurl at the current Democratic frontrunner Christine Quinn.
In the morning, Quinn gave a speech outlining her public safety agenda, and stated that she would not support a bill before the City Council that would prohibit racial profiling by the Police Department. During the debate, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio was the first to call out Quinn for taking this position, saying that the city “needs” the racial profiling bill as a step toward “healing and strengthening the relationship between police and communities.”
Quinn later defended her position on the bill, saying, “Let me also be clear on the racial profiling bill, profiling is illegal in the city of New York and it’s something that we all need to have zero tolerance for.”
The candidates were also asked whether a proposed bill to set up an Inspector General’s office to oversee the Police Department reflected poorly on the City Council’s oversight of the NYPD, a question which opened the door to criticism of Quinn’s leadership as Council Speaker. Many of the candidates took the bait and agreed that the Council should shoulder some of the blame, especially in curbing the proliferation of stop, question and frisk policing, again forcing Quinn on the defensive.
“The issue of the City Council’s record on stop, question, and frisk I think is very clear. The only reason we know the numbers is because of law passed by the City Council that requires documentation and reporting from the Police Department. The only reason there has been re-training of police officers is because of advocacy by me and the other members of the City Council,” Quinn said. “The [Inspector General] will build on our work, it doesn’t replace it.”