Former Mayor David Dinkins gave a ringing endorsement of Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly and the NYPD’s maligned stop-and-frisk tactic, adding for good measure his backing for the mayoral aspirations of Bill Thompson, who has adopted one of the most moderate stances on the controversial policy.
The city’s first black mayor said that the search method helps to reduce gun violence.
“Clearly,” said Dinkins, who served a single term from 1989 to 1993, “it’s a good thing if we can get weapons off the street.”
Dinkins said that he has confidence in Kelly, whom he first appointed as police commissioner in the aftermath of the 1991 Crown Heights riots.
“I trust Ray Kelly,” Dinkins said. “That doesn’t mean Ray can’t make mistakes. We’ve got a lot of police out there, and they’re not all perfect.”
Dinkins made the comments Monday at a Harlem press conference, in which he and Rep. Charles Rangel endorsed Thompson, a former city comptroller who lost narrowly to Mayor Michael Bloomberg in 2009.
Dinkins called Thompson a unifier who “will bring New Yorkers from every corner of our city together and lead.”
Noting the uptick in murders in the city over the past few days, Rangel added his support for stop-and-frisk.
“If there is anybody in law enforcement who has reason to believe that someone is carrying a weapon … they have a duty based on the evidence they have to search and find out,” Rangel, the nation’s longest-serving black congressman, said.
“That does not include abuse of a privilege that the uniform doesn’t carry, that the badge doesn’t carry. No one said you have a right to insult our young people.”
As opposed to most of the Democratic mayoral candidates, Thompson has said that stop-and-frisk is a “useful policing tool” that has been “misused and abused” and must be fixed.
Using harsh language, Bloomberg accused members of the City Council on Monday of siding with criminals by pushing to curb stop-and-frisk.
“We are giving the NYPD every tool that we possibly can to crack down on illegal guns, even as special-interest groups and members of the City Council are trying to take those tools away from the police,” Bloomberg said. “I don’t know who you think the criminals are rooting for — us or the special interests in the City Council, I don’t know. But it seems like they are probably not on our side of this.”
Councilman Peter Vallone Jr., a conservative Queens Democrat, used his powerful position Monday as chairman of the Public Safety Committee to block two bills that would tie law enforcement officials’ hands.
Vallone, who has long been at odds with Council Speaker Christine Quinn, said that he will not allow a vote on a bill opening the court system to lawsuits against police for racial profiling. He added that he is opposed to another bill which would appoint an inspector general to oversee the NYPD, but would allow a vote.
Vallone said that allowing people to sue police makes law enforcement less willing to do their jobs.
“I won’t have blood on my hands,” Vallone said. “That’s absolutely what this bill will result in — more crime and more deaths.”