New Mayor De Blasio is no stranger to the stop-and-frisk harassment millions of black New Yorkers are subjected to, on the streets every day, in the hands of police officers. De Blasio is white but he is married to a black woman and their kids have dark skin color. So, it was no surprise that one of the promises De Blasio made during his campaign for Mayorship of the city of New York was to put an end to the stop-and-frisk program. Thirty days into his administration, de Blasio delivered on his promise and issued policy to curve the practice.
The mayor believed that his new policy will make the city safer, for it will free up police officers to focus on community policing and improve relations with the population that is mostly affected by the old practice. “It is time to mend the fabric of police-community relations, and start down a new path that lays the groundwork for real and lasting public safety” said the mayor. De Blasio means business; in addition to ending the program, he immediately dropped the appeal his predecessor, former mayor Michael Bloomberg initiated against a judge’s ruling ordering the City to stop. De Blasio settled on behalf of NYC a long-running lawsuit against the police department stop-and-frisk policy.
Those new initiatives by the mayor are widely seen in the black community as a positive step towards ending the regular harassment young black males have been subjected to every day. Vincent Warren, executive director of the Center for Constitutional Rights who represented the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, stated in response to whether he would collaborate with the mayor “I can’t wait to get started.” Mr. Warren is however cautiously optimistic and believes there is much work to do, “Nobody… is pretending this is mission accomplished. The problem hasn’t been solved,” but he’s hanging to the mayor’s statement that “This will be one city where everyone rises together, where everyone’s rights are protected.”
Not everyone believes Mayor Bill de Blasio is sincere; he appointed Bill Bratton as NYC Police Commissioner. Mr. Bratton is a vocal supporter of stop-and-frisk. He served as NYPD Commissioner from 1994 to 1996 under former mayor Rudy Giuliani; Bratton was responsible for expanding the program to aggressively pursue small crimes such as vandalism, loitering and the likes.
It seems at best that de Blasio will continue the use of stop-and-frisk for years to come. This is not so, said Bill Bratton. He admitted that the practice has damaged the relation between the police and the population; “we need to repair it” he said. Not much detail is offered on how he would manage crimes in the City.
Despite the cynicism expressed by some, due mostly to the mayor’s choice of police commissioner, most blacks approve the initiatives and are willing to give the mayor time to prove himself. After all, he’s been in office for less than 90 days.
Follow Mike Ducheine on Twitter: @mducheiney
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