NYC Council members rally against Mayor Adams’ ‘How Many Stops’ veto as he tries to scuttle override

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City Council members and criminal justice advocates staged an at times raucous rally directly in front of Mayor Adams’ office Tuesday to rail against his veto of the How Many Stops Act, a bill that would place new transparency requirements on NYPD officers.

Adams, a retired NYPD captain, vetoed the bill last week because he says it’d bury cops in “paperwork” and distract them from actual police work.

But Council Speaker Adrienne Adams, who led Tuesday’s rally in the City Hall Rotunda, has vowed that her Democratic super-majority will override the mayor’s veto and enact the measure despite his opposition.

“New Yorkers need and deserve transparency,” said the speaker, who was joined by roughly a dozen of her Council colleagues, clergy members, activists and Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, who introduced the bill. “We understand that transparency and accountability are pivotal to establishing the trust that is necessary to making our communities safer.”

At the same time as the rally played out in the rotunda, the mayor was holding a press briefing in the Blue Room across the hall.

The legislation would require that cops log basic information, such as estimated age, race and gender, into a department database about every civilian they interact with as part of encounters that are investigative in nature. That’s an expansion of current NYPD rules, which only require officers to document information about so-called “Level 3” stops, where there’s a reasonable suspicion of a crime in progress.

During the rotunda rally, the speaker said beefing up reporting protocols to also cover Level 1 and Level 2 encounters — the first of which doesn’t require a suspicion of a crime — is needed at a time that the NYPD’s federal monitor reports that one out of four stops of civilians conducted by the department’s new plainclothes units are unconstitutional. To boot, 97% of New Yorkers stopped by the units are Black and Latino, the speaker noted.

“We stand united in support of this important reform and against the mayor’s veto, and we look forward to overriding it together,” the speaker said.

As cheering could at times be heard from the rally, Adams reiterated in his briefing he believes requiring reporting on Level 1 stops would place a colossal bureaucratic burden on NYPD officers.

He also claimed some Council members who voted for the How Many Stops Act have told him privately they deep inside don’t like the legislation.

“When I speak with City Council members, if they were able to vote with their conscience, they would not be supporting this bill,” Adams said. “I know they are pro-law enforcement.”

After the briefing, Adams spokesman Charles Lutvak declined to identify the members referenced by the mayor. “You can ask them,” Lutvak said.

The How Many Stops Act passed in December with support from 35 Council members — one above the 34 threshold required to pull off a veto override.

As a result, the mayor needs to convince at least two members to flip their votes to stave off an override.

An override vote is expected to take place by early March. The Council is expected to at the same time vote to override Adams’ veto of a separate bill that’d ban solitary confinement in city jails — a measure that passed with support from 39 members.

Amid that dynamic, the mayor and his team are trying publicly and privately to coax members into abandoning support of both bills.

Earlier this week, the administration invited all Council members to join NYPD officers for a “ride-along” this Saturday, an effort the mayor’s team says will show them the real-life detrimental consequences of the How Many Stops Act.

The mayor said Council Public Safety Committee Chairman Yusef Salaam, who has already committed to help override his veto, and Bronx Councilman Kevin Riley are so far signed up for this weekend’s ride-along.

According to the mayor, the most concerning element of the How Many Stops Act is the proposal to require that all Level 1 stops be documented. While Level 2 stops require cops to have some “founded suspicion” of criminal activity afoot, Adams said Level 1 stops comprise innocuous interactions like asking someone if they are experiencing a medical emergency or if they’ve seen a lost dog in the neighborhood.

“You take that out, I will sign that any day, and I will stand up and say good job City Council,” Adams said of Level 1 stops.

The mayor and NYPD leaders have said a single Level 1 stop could take minutes to report, distracting officers from time on patrol. How Many Stops supporters have disputed that argument, saying Level 1 reporting should take seconds and can be done via a cellphone app.

Williams, the public advocate, said in the rotunda that excluding Level 1 interactions would also defeat the purpose of the bill. Beyond finding that many stops are unconstitutional, the NYPD’s federal monitor recently reported that officers have mislabeled some stops in order to avoid reporting them, and Williams said requiring disclosures across the board is thereby warranted.

Shawn Williams, the father of Antonio Williams, who was fatally shoot by NYPD officers in 2019 during a Level 1 stop, attended the rotunda rally and said he sees the mayor’s veto of the How Many Stops Act as a betrayal of his campaign promise to support criminal justice reform.

“I urge the City Council to not fall prey to the mayor’s lies, stand with our families and pass this bill,” said Williams. “Override this shameful veto.”