NYPD Commissioner, Others Question City Hall Screening Process For Meetings With Elected Officials

New York Police Department Commissioner Edward Caban speaks during the first quarter crime briefing press conference Wednesday, April 3, 2024, in Manhattan, New York City. (Barry Williams/New York Daily News/TNS)

NEW YORK (New York Daily News/TNS) — NYPD Commissioner Ed Cabán is among others questioning a new City Hall policy that restricts the way city agencies, including the Police Department, can communicate with local elected officials, the New York Daily News has learned.

The new policy, which requires elected officials to file a written request with Mayor Eric Adams’ office before speaking with senior agency staff about a range of issues, is also drawing skepticism from elected officials, who say it will hamper their ability to perform a key function of their jobs.

Cabán voiced his concern during a private meeting last Friday, where City Hall officials first relayed the new policy to agency leaders. Cabán said that the requirement could prove a nuisance for the NYPD’s precinct and borough commanders, according to a senior Adams administration official on the call and a second source briefed on the conversation.

Precinct and borough commanders engage with local elected officials on a daily basis about various topics, including public safety issues in their districts raised by constituents, Cabán explained. Requiring elected officials to get a green-light from City Hall before such conversations could make work hard for everyone involved, Cabán warned, according to the sources.

“What [Cabán] was saying is that they have such constant communication with elected officials that you would imagine that this would slow down communication,” the source who was on the call told The News this week, speaking on condition of anonymity. “He said he was happy of course to fill it out for any interactions he or anyone else at [Police Headquarters] had to do, but questioned whether and why his commanders would need to do it.”

Adams’ office declined to comment Wednesday on Cabán’s concerns. The NYPD didn’t immediately return a request for comment.

After news first broke of the new policy Tuesday, Adams spokeswoman Kayla Mamelak defended it as a tool helping the administration “streamline our services and maximize our resources.”

“We are dedicated to implementing strategies that allow us to coordinate more efficiently and maintain our responsiveness to all members of the public,” Mamelak added.

Under the new policy, City Council members, state legislators and other local elected officials seeking to speak with agency commissioners or their executive team staff must fill out a form on a newly-launched City Hall webpage. The form requires the officials to provide their home addresses, specifics about who they want to speak with and the topic.

“Completion of this form does not result in a guarantee of a meeting or appearance. The City reserves the right to decline requests,” a footnote on the form states. The mayor’s Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, which is led by longtime Adams adviser Tiffany Raspberry, is tasked with reviewing and approving the requests.

According to an email first reported by the news outlet The City, the types of interactions requiring a request include all meetings with commissioners, executive directors and senior agency staff as well as any discussions about “enforcement” or issues “outside the scope of daily operations.”

Several local elected officials interviewed by The News said they have commissioners’ cellphone numbers and talk with them directly for various work reasons, often multiple times a week.

Mandating pre-approval for such interactions would be counterintuitive, argued Manhattan Councilman Keith Powers.

“This policy would handcuff every Council member to do their job effectively, slow down city government, and hurt the ability of commissioners to do their jobs,” Powers, a Democrat, told The News. “It makes no sense.”

Adams’ team has drawn criticism before for attempting to control agency interactions with the media and elected officials, including over a 2022 directive requiring City Hall to vet all agency-level press releases.

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