Heard Around Town

Eric Adams and Jumaane Williams trade barbs over controversial policing bill

The mayor said the public advocate lives in a fort, so he shouldn’t dictate public safety policy. The public advocate compared the mayor to a “5-year-old” and said he lives in New Jersey.

Eric Adams, left, and Jumaane Williams, right, in happier times.

Eric Adams, left, and Jumaane Williams, right, in happier times. Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images

Debate over a controversial police transparency bill passed by the City Council late last year turned personal on Wednesday, as Mayor Eric Adams and several members of his administration accused lefty Public Advocate Jumaane Williams – who sponsored the How Many Stops Act – of burdening police by requiring them to document more interactions with the public. Williams in turn accused the mayor of intentionally misleading New Yorkers about the bill, comparing him to a child in the process.

At a public safety briefing on Wednesday to tout lower homicide rates, Adams alluded to the fact that Williams lives on the Fort Hamilton Army base to suggest that Williams is sheltered from concerns about crime. “I find it astonishing that we have a public advocate who pushed for this police bill,” Adams said in response to a reporter’s question. “He lives in a fort. He doesn’t take the subway … So to be able to advocate to erode the ability of police to do protection when you have an entire army protecting your family and you drive around with police protection.”

Williams then scheduled an impromptu virtual press briefing – as he did last month following critical comments about the legislation by the mayor – in which he sought to refute the mayor’s argument that new reporting requirements will burden officers and take time away from matters of public safety. But Williams took it a step further than he did last month, saying of the mayor, “What I heard today really sounded like a 5-year-old throwing a temper tantrum, grabbing at straws because he didn't get what he wanted.”

In response to the mayor’s suggestion that he’s sheltered at Fort Hamilton, Williams said, “My understanding is the mayor lives in New Jersey with his girlfriend,” referring to the co-op that Adams co-owns in another fort of sorts – Fort Lee, New Jersey.

Several members of the Adams administration then took to Twitter to fire back at Williams, including a rare appearance on the app by chief adviser Ingrid Lewis-Martin, who wrote, “This is really beneath you. You should be ashamed. You live in a fort on an army base. The mayor lives in Bed Stuy with his constituents. Shameful beyond belief.” (As mayor of New York City, Adams also has an official residence at Gracie Mansion.)

Senior adviser Diane Savino and deputy chief of staff Menashe Shapiro also shared criticism of Williams on Twitter. “With all due respect, one was an actual cop and one wasn't,” Savino wrote, noting Adams’ history as an NYPD officer.

The Adams administration says the How Many Stops Act will tie officers up in filling out paperwork for all kinds of low-level encounters with civilians. Williams and the bill’s backers in the City Council are adamant that new reporting requirements for lower level encounters with civilians will not hamstring police, but provide much-needed transparency. Adams threatened to veto the bill before it passed, though it passed last month with a veto-proof majority. The mayor has not yet taken action to veto the bill.