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Mayor vetoes New York police oversight plans

July 23, 2013

NEW YORK (AP) — New York City’s mayor on Tuesday vetoed the most ambitious new oversight proposed in years for the New York Police Department, the nation’s biggest police force, calling the measures “dangerous.”

The measures came from concerns about the NYPD’s extensive practice of stopping and searching blacks and Hispanics and its widespread surveillance of Muslims, spying that was disclosed in stories by The Associated Press.

The measures would create an outside watchdog for the department and a broader path for lawsuits claiming discriminatory policing.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s veto puts the proposals on a course toward what could be a dramatic override vote by lawmakers later this year.

″(The measures are) dangerous and irresponsible,” he wrote in veto messages.

The mayor and Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly have argued that the legislation would make officers hesitant to act for fear of coming under scrutiny and would undercut policing techniques that have cut crime dramatically in recent years.

Civil rights advocates and other proponents say the measures will make the city safer by repairing frayed trust between police and citizens who feel unfairly targeted.

City police have conducted about 5 million so-called stop and frisks during the past decade; arrests resulted about 10 percent of the time. Those stopped are overwhelmingly black or Hispanic — about 87 percent in the last two years. Blacks and Hispanics make up 54 percent of the city’s population.

Stop and frisk is legal, and Bloomberg and Kelly consider it a vital crime-fighting tool. Critics say that the stops are racial profiling and cast suspicion on innocent people.

Some have expressed similar feelings about the NYPD’s Muslim surveillance efforts, which included infiltrating Muslim student groups, putting informants in mosques and monitoring sermons. The department has said the initiatives were legal and part of a broad effort to prevent terrorist attacks.

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Associated Press writer Jennifer Peltz contributed.

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