On two separate occasions last month it was suggested that a court-appointed entity monitor the actions of the New York Police Department. In the first instance, the U.S. Justice Department suggested a monitor to address the racial implementation of stop and frisk procedures by select NYPD officers. The U.S. Justice Department announced that
it would support a decision by the judge to appoint a monitor to ensure compliance with any reform of police practices ordered by [the judge].
In the second instance, Civil Rights Groups suggested a monitor of the NYPD’s Muslim Surveillance Program, an intelligence program designed to foil terrorist plots. Members of the Muslim community argue that the Surveillance Program hinders their constitutional right to worship.
The New York City Council responded to the call for an NYPD monitor by
approv[ing] some of the most sweeping plans in years to impose new oversight over the NYPD.
The two bills passed recently
expand the definition of racial profiling and… establish an inspector general with subpoena power to recommend changes to the NYPD’s policies and practices.
Those in favor of the NYPD monitor contend that the monitor will regulate police procedures to prevent, or at the very least diminish, racial and religious discrimination by the NYPD. Those against the NYPD monitor, most notably Mayor Bloomberg and Police Commission Ray Kelly, argue that a monitor would prevent police officers from doing their jobs effectively because it would cause hesitation among police officers in carrying out procedures vital to fighting crime.
Whether monitoring the NYPD is the right approach remains to be seen. However, the mere suggestion of an NYPD monitor indicates that society is moving toward a solution to a problem that has hindered the NYPD and society for decades.