NYC Council votes to override Mayor Adams' How Many Stops Act veto

ByPhil Taitt, Eyewitness News WABC logo
Wednesday, January 31, 2024
NYC Council overwhelmingly overrides Mayor Adams' veto
Jim Dolan reports from Lower Manhattan with the latest.

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- The New York City Council passed two criminal justice bills with veto-proof majorities, defying Mayor Eric Adams, who last month vetoed both.

Both the How Many Stops Act (Int. 586-A) and the bill banning solitary confinement (Int. 549-A) passed by a 42-9 vote on Tuesday.

Both pieces of legislation were approved with even more support than the original vote in December, a stinging rebuke to the tough-on-crime mayor and his late push to reject the council.

Ahead of the vote, the mayor told Eyewitness News he has no regrets.

"I did my job. I felt that the bill wasn't where we should have been. We vetoed that," Adams said.

He spoke extensively about his role vetoing the act and what he expected to happen after the City Council's vote on Eyewitness News Mornings @ 10.

Mayor Eric Adams joins the Mornings @ 10 team to talk about the City Council's upcoming vote that's expected to override his veto on the "How Many Stops" act.

"We have to draft out how to do it. The second thing is, we need to really engage with a process of encouraging the Council members to amend," Adams said.

The legislation gives police reform advocates a major win in requiring the nation's largest police department and its 36,000 officers to document all investigative encounters in a city that once had officers routinely stop and frisk huge numbers of men for weapons - a strategy that took a heavy toll on communities of color.

It requires officers to record the apparent race, gender and ages of people they stop in low-level encounters, where police ask for information from people who aren't necessarily suspected of a crime.

Officers also will have to report the reason for the interaction and the circumstances that led to stopping a particular person. The data would be made public on the police department's website.

"Black and Latino New Yorkers continue to be disproportionately subjected to unconstitutional stops that go on to report," Council Speaker Adrienne Adams said. Civilian complaints of misconduct are at their highest levels in a decade. These stops can no longer happen in the shadows, because the pain and trauma they inflict on communities have long lasting impacts."

But the mayor has said the reporting requirements for low-level stops is too time-consuming for officers, forcing them to fill out forms every time they speak to a person rather than focusing on solving a crime.

Adams released a statement after the vote, saying the bills will make New Yorkers less safe.

"Today, New York remains the safest big city in America - and we are getting safer. In 2023, murders were down 12 percent, and shootings were down 25 percent," Adams said. "We have also meaningfully improved the conditions in a jail system that was on the brink of collapse two years ago. But the City Council's votes today may end up undermining all that progress."

He went on to say that he believes that public safety and justice go hand in hand.

"I have fought for both throughout my entire career. I share the City Council's goal of increasing transparency in government, and our administration has remained at the table to negotiate in good faith throughout this entire process to achieve that mission. But the answer is not to compromise public safety or justice for the victims of violence," Adams said.

New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, who sponsored the bill, said Tuesday that reporting the encounters could be done in less than a minute on an officer's smartphone through a system already in place.

"This is all a conversation about public safety. Transparency and the police department is a part of public safety," Williams said. "And as I mentioned, it can already fit in seamlessly with the work we are already doing."

After the council first approved the How Many Stops Act in December, Adams and the NYPD went on the offensive to publicly campaign against it. On Friday night, the mayor hosted a police ride-along for council members in an effort to sway some lawmakers from voting to override his veto.

But the event was overshadowed that same evening when an officer pulled over Council Member Yusef Salaam, an exonerated member of the "Central Park Five" who with four other Black and Latino men were falsely accused and convicted of raping a white jogger in Central Park in 1989. Their convictions were eventually overturned through DNA evidence.

Salaam was stopped by police for driving with window tints beyond the legal limit. Once he identified himself, the officer ended the stop. But Salaam says he was not given a reason.

Though such a stop would not be covered by the transparency bill - police already have to record information when they pull a driver over - Salaam argued that it shows the need for greater police transparency.

"This experience only amplified the importance of transparency for all police investigative stops because the lack of transparency allows racial profiling and unconstitutional stops of all types to occur and often go unreported," Salaam said.

The Police Benevolent Association released the following statement after the vote:

"New York City police officers will comply with the new law and do the job the way the City Council wants it done. Despite the increased workload and the NYPD's critically low staffing levels, we will continue to protect our communities to the best of our ability. Ultimately, it will be City Council members - not PBA members - who must answer for rising 911 response times and diminished police presence in our neighborhoods."

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

RELATED | Mayor Eric Adams vetoes controversial bill, setting stage for showdown with NYC Council

Jim Dolan with the latest.


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