In The News

NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer unveils new NYPD reform proposals

Originally published in NY Daily News.

Comptroller Scott Stringer unveiled a series of new police reform proposals Wednesday that include revamping how the city’s 911 emergency phone system routes calls, ending incarceration for people with parole violations and holding police honchos accountable for overtime cost overruns.

Stringer, who’s running for mayor in a crowded field, released his 50-page policy report outlining those plans at a time when candidates are focused on how to best reform the NYPD after the department’s response to protests last summer drew outrage from across the political spectrum.

One proposal included in the report attempts to address the handling of the protests directly — Stringer wants to do away with the NYPD’s Strategic Response Group’s Disorder Control Unit, which serves as riot police during times of unrest.

In his report, Stringer writes that the unit “should be disbanded so that militarized officers are no longer engaged in policing protests, marches, demonstrations, or parades.”

Instead, the Manhattan Democrat wants to see “a mostly civilian force” that would be “tasked with managing traffic and engaging with those present both in the lead-up and during the demonstration in order to facilitate a peaceful protest.”

Stringer also aims to disband the NYPD’s Vice Squad, which deals with prostitution, internet crimes and human trafficking, and argues that ” criminal penalties for sex work should be eliminated altogether.” Human trafficking and internet crime would then become the responsibility of the state attorney general and the district attorneys.

To reduce the NYPD’s budget, Stringer’s report makes several recommendations.

Under his proposal, overtime would be eliminated as a “bonus” for making arrests and each precinct would be capped in the amount of OT that it’s permitted to allow cops to work, with 20% of overtime to be distributed at the police commissioner’s discretion.

Stringer argues that capping overtime would accomplish two goals: cutting costs and reducing officer fatigue.

His report cites two studies — one conducted by the Phoenix Police Department and another by the King Country Sheriff’s Office in Washington State, which found that for each hour of overtime worked, officers became slightly more likely to use force or engage in unethical behavior.

“The amount of overtime dispersed should be closely tracked at weekly Compstat meetings, with Deputy Inspectors held accountable for adhering to their precinct budget,” the report states.

The city’s 911 system should also be transformed to shift responsibility away from armed police in situations that might not immediately require an NYPD response, Stringer contends.

The report is short on details on exactly how to proceed, but points to a crisis-intervention program in Oregon that dispatches medics and “crisis workers” as first responders on emergency calls about suicide prevention, intoxicated people and elderly people in need.

Not all of Stringer’s agenda could be accomplished by the city alone, though. His proposal to prohibit jailing people for parole violations could only be done through state law.

His call for reform drew a response from the head of the NYPD detective’s union, who said Stringer should “stick to bean counting.”

“He should figure out how to provide the NYPD with more resources so the New Yorkers he says he wants to represent as mayor don’t have to worry about being shot by a stray bullet while on the street or in their homes,” said Detectives’ Endowment Association President Paul DiGiacamo. “Lives are literally on the line.”