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

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Friday, January 19, 2024
NYC Mayor Adams vetoes controversial bill on police reporting
Jim Dolan with the latest.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- New York City Mayor Eric Adams vetoed two bills Friday aimed at banning solitary confinement in city jails and requiring more transparency in police encounters -- setting up a showdown with the City Council.

Adams first vetoed the City Council's How Many Stops Act, which would require police to document interactions with the public.

The bill requires officers to publicly report on all investigative stops, including relatively low-level encounters with civilians.

Police are currently only required to fill out reports following "reasonable suspicion" stops, where an officer has the legal authority to search and detain someone.

Critics argue that while overall crime and violent crime are down under the Adams Administration, this move could threaten the progress made over the past two years.

However Adams is defending his decision to veto the bill, saying it won't make New York City safer. He says the bill requiring officers to record every encounter with a member of the public would lead to greater distrust of the police and discourage people from speaking to officers.

The mayor says it will also slow police response times and add tens of millions of dollars to the NYPD's budget as officers take times to fill out reports.

Adams had until Friday to announce his decision to veto both of the bills.

Hours later - and with decidedly less fanfare - the mayor's office announced that he had also vetoed the solitary confinement bill, citing concerns raised by a federal monitor appointed to evaluate operations at the city's jails.

That bill would place a four-hour limit on isolating inmates who pose an immediate risk of violence to others or themselves in "de-escalation" units.

Both bills were passed with veto-proof majorities at the end of last years session, over the mayor's objections. The How Many Stops Act passed with a 35-9 margin, with three abstentions.

City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams, a fellow Democrat, confirmed that the council was prepared to override him on both fronts.

She argued that the jail restrictions are needed to address problems at Riker's Island, which faces possible federal takeover in order to curb violence at the infamous island jail complex. She also pushed back at the mayor's claims that solitary confinement has not been utilized in city jails for years.

"Solitary confinement, by any name, has been proven to cause physical, psychological, and emotional harm, and its use has contributed to continued violence and deaths on Rikers Island," the speaker said in a statement "We cannot allow the human rights and safety crisis on Rikers to continue by maintaining the status quo of failed policies and practices. "

She also argued the policing bill was warranted because civilian complaints against officers are at their highest level in more than a decade.

"The false narrative that we cannot have transparency is bad for our city, and belies the fact that accountability is vital to improving public safety by increasing trust," she said in a separate statement with Councilmember Yusef Salaam, a Harlem Democrat and exonerated "Central Park Five" member.

The mayor had been aggressively messaging against the bill, and used Wednesday's search for the Queens stabbing suspect as an example of its impracticality.

The city released two videos against it on its social media, including a cartoon showing officers surrounded by piles of paperwork.

"By having officers spend time taking down additional, unnecessary information, the NYPD will have to spend more time on paperwork. Do we want our cops doing paperwork? Or police work?"

The Legal Aid Society condemned Adams for vetoing the How Many Stops Act and called on the City Council to hold an immediate override vote.

"Police stops are at their highest level in nearly a decade, with the overwhelming majority of reported stops impacting Black and Latinx New Yorkers," said Jennvine Wong, Staff Attorney with the Cop Accountability Project at The Legal Aid Society. "Current laws allowing NYPD officers to interrogate and search any New Yorker without reporting the encounter have allowed these inequalities to flourish, and City Hall must take action to protect their vulnerable constituents and hold the NYPD to a higher standard of accountability. We are grateful to Speaker Adams for bringing this legislation forward and to the supermajority who voted for its passage. We condemn Mayor Adams' veto of this critical, common-sense legislation and urge the City Council to hold an immediate override vote to ensure that this Act, which will keep all New Yorkers safer and more informed, becomes law."

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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