New York City Council Members Erik Bottcher, Gale Brewer and Keith Powers voiced concerns about overburdening the New York City Police Department with paperwork once the How Many Stops Act is implemented, during a live interview with City & State at the Broadway Association legislative luncheon at Sardi’s in Times Square Thursday.
All three made their remarks two days after they were among council members who voted in favor of overriding Mayor Eric Adams’ veto of the new law requiring additional reporting from police on lower level investigations. Adams has argued that the additional paperwork will tie up officers and keep them from efficiently maintaining public safety. Supporters insist the additional reporting is needed to improve transparency at the NYPD, given its disproportionately high rate of stopping Black and brown people.
Bottcher, Brewer and Powers were among the 42 council members who voted in favor of overriding Adams’ veto. Nine – all members of the Common Sense Caucus – were against.
Bottcher flipped on his original vote against approving the new law.
“When the bill was voted on initially, I had a lot of concerns that were not resolved by the time of the votes,” he said. “I feel better about it now than I did then. But it is true that police officers have a lot of forms and reports and paperwork.” He urged against making the implementation of the new law “overly burdensome” and noted that officers already have to fill out “multiple forms.” “They have to write out things by hand and type them up when they get back to the station house. So we need to take a look at everything that they have to do and see how we can make it better.” He added that adding administrative duties could even hurt recruitment.
Brewer, the only council member at the event to take up Adams’ offer to go on a ride along with police last Saturday, recounted how officers on a low-level investigation of a non-fatal shooting had to approach 30 bystanders to get information. “There were 30 people who the police officers asked, ‘Did you see anything?’ And it was ‘no, no, no.’ They hadn’t seen anything,” Brewer recalled. She scoffed at the thought of the paperwork that would follow for so many stops. “You cannot handle 30 pieces of paper. That’s insane,” she told attendees. She called for the use of technology that coordinates with district attorneys to streamline police reporting.
Powers, who had voted to approve the law, said he also, like Bottcher, worried about the law’s impact on police, and agreed with Brewer for the need to improve on how officers report on their work. “The one thing that I think, given all these conversations, is how easy this could be to bring forth if (we), and the DAs and NYPD all work together.”
Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine, also participating in the interview, deferred to the council members when asked to comment on the new law. “I know they think deeply about the imperative of making our city safer, and also of ensuring that we have a fair policing and criminal justice system,” he told attendees. “It's a lot to balance, and I want to let them speak on their thinking on this bill and what it means.”