The Herald Bulletin

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August 23, 2013

Council overrides mayor's veto, approves NYPD watchdog

NEW YORK — The nation's biggest police department will get a new watchdog and face easier standards for people to file profiling lawsuits against it after the City Council on Thursday overrode mayoral vetoes amid applause from supporters and angry warnings from opponents.

The measures mark the most aggressive legislative effort in years to put new checks on the New York Police Department, and the vote came less than two weeks after a federal judge imposed new oversight of her own.

"Today marks a monumental civil rights victory for New Yorkers," Councilmen Jumaane Williams and Brad Lander, the legislation's sponsors, said in a statement.

The legislation drew national attention from civil rights groups and a vehement response from Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who slapped it down earlier this summer. He said Thursday it will make it "harder for our police officers to protect New Yorkers and continue to drive down crime."

"Make no mistake: The communities that will feel the most negative impacts of these bills will be minority communities across our city, which have been the greatest beneficiaries of New York City's historic crime reductions," he said in a statement.

Proponents see the measures as needed oversight for a police force that's come under scrutiny for its heavy use of a tactic known as stop and frisk and its extensive surveillance of Muslims, which was revealed in stories by The Associated Press.

Douglas Bryant, an educator from the Bronx who said he's been unfairly stopped by police a couple of times, went to City Hall to watch the council's vote.

"I hope this will give the police some sense that our voice can be heard sometimes, such as today," Bryant said.

A packed spectators' gallery erupted in cheers when the vote was announced. Later, supporters exchanged hugs outside.

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