Cuomo floats possible NYPD monitor, demands answers from mayoral hopefuls

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Michael Gartland, New York Daily News
·4 min read
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Gov. Cuomo on Sunday floated the possibility of the NYPD coming under the control of a court-appointed monitor, and demanded that mayoral candidates detail their police reform agendas.

A federal monitor is already overseeing the NYPD’s handling of stop-and-frisk. But New York State Attorney General Letitia James raised the prospect of another monitor assuming control of the department in a lawsuit filed earlier this month alleging city cops have used illegal tactics for years.

“The attorney general’s lawsuit calls for a monitor to be put into place,” Cuomo said at a press briefing, adding that under that scenario, a monitor would oversee the NYPD — not the mayor and police commissioner.

“And the monitor isn’t elected by anyone. It’s appointed by a court under the attorney general’s lawsuit,” he said.

Cuomo said he’s “surprised” mayoral candidates — calling out Comptroller Scott Stringer and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams,by name — aren’t talking more publicly about how they’d address police reform.

“Borough President Adams — he knows the situation very well from multiple sides. What is your position?” he said of the former NYPD captain. “Scott Stringer, he’s the sitting comptroller who’s been there all this time, what’s your idea? You want to be mayor, what would you do about this?”

Hazel Crampton-Hays, the press secretary at the Office of the New York City Comptroller, said Stringer would “have more to say on this in the coming days.”

But Adams’ spokesman Evan Thies countered that Adams “put out a widely reported comprehensive agenda for reform, including diversifying the department and holding bad cops responsible through historic transparency measures.”

“We will forward Eric’s agenda for police reform to the governor,” he said.

The NYPD and de Blasio aren’t the only ones who’ve come under scrutiny by Attorney General Letitia James in recent weeks. Last week, James released a scathing report taking Cuomo’s administration to task for undercounting COVID fatalities in nursing homes by as much as 50%.

Cuomo’s handling of the virus in nursing homes has been under fire for months, and took advantage of the opportunity to change the subject Sunday, speaking about the problems police departments face enacting reform — and singling out New York City for a law banning the use of chokeholds or other moves that restrict breathing.

“The crime rate in New York City has been a rocket. The reduction in the number of crimes solved has also been a rocket. Who pays the price for additional crime? The poor, the black and the Latino communities. That’s who’s suffering from the increased crime,” he said.

“The police are going to say ‘we think the chokehold law went too far, we think the diaphragm law goes too far, we don’t think we can do our job, and if we can’t do our job safely, that’s a bad situation for the police,’” he said. “Communities are going to say ‘we think you have been abusive and discriminate.’”

Last year, Cuomo mandated local governments begin a process of reforming their police departments — requiring departments and community groups to meet and discuss what changes are necessary. Plans have to be submitted by April 1, or municipalities run the risk of losing state money to fund law enforcement.

Cuomo praised the New York City Council for several police reforms it suggested last week, including one that would require police commissioner candidates to go through a confirmation process overseen by the Council. “To that, I say good for [Council] Speaker Corey Johnson,” Cuomo said. “Because they have to pass a plan by April 1. That’s 60-something days. That’s like tomorrow.”

But he said he’s got no opinion on the specifics, suggesting the most important aim is to restore a relationship between the NYPD and the community.

“The police have to do their job, and they’re not going to do their job if they don’t feel safe in doing their job,” he said. “And the community has to feel respected and has to feel that they have protections in place. And this doesn’t resolve itself.”