New York News

Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio says he's 'cleared the air' with Ray Kelly

Saturday, November 16, 2013
bill de blasio

New York City Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio said Saturday he'd "cleared the air" with police Commissioner Raymond Kelly a day after the NYPD's top official told Playboy magazine de Blasio and other Democrats were "pandering" by criticizing the controversial tactic.

De Blasio declined to get into specifics of Friday's discussion with Kelly, who told the magazine for its December issue that Democrats were "pandering to get votes" by attacking the stops of young black and Hispanic men.

"It was a good conversation and we cleared the air and we're moving forward," de Blasio said following a speech at the Rev. Al Sharpton's National Action Network in Harlem.

Pressed on what exactly he meant - or if any apology was made - de Blasio said, "Just exactly what I said, we cleared the air."

Democratic hopefuls repeatedly bashed the police's use of stop-and-frisk during the hard-fought mayoral primary, and it became a central issue in the general election de Blasio won by a wide margin earlier this month.

In his interview Kelly was asked in salty language if the candidates were "just full of it," during the campaign. He replied, "absolutely."

De Blasio, a vocal critic of the city's use of the tactic, has used his opposition to stop-and-frisk to draw a distinction between himself and the policies of outgoing independent Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has staunchly supported the practice throughout his 12-year tenure in City Hall.

De Blasio has said he won't keep Kelly as police commissioner when he takes office in January. The NYPD didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

A federal judge ruled in August that the city violated the civil rights of tens of thousands of blacks and Hispanics by disproportionally stopping, questioning and sometimes frisking them. U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin assigned a federal monitor to oversee the department's training and help change its policy. The city has appealed her decision and last month a federal appeals court stayed her decision, pulling Scheindlin off the case.

The city has moved to vacate the orders all together.

De Blasio has said he would drop the appeal but could also settle with those urging reforms, eliminating federal oversight. But on Saturday, speaking before about 100 people at the National Action Network, de Blasio reiterated his critique of the program.

"If you believe that our young men of color should be respected and celebrated and not treated like suspects even when they've done nothing wrong, then you'll be with me as we make these changes," he said to thunderous applause.

Stop and frisk has been around for decades, but recorded stops increased dramatically in the last decade to an all-time high in 2011 of 684,330, mostly of black and Hispanic men. To make a stop, police must have reasonable suspicion that a crime is about to occur or has occurred, a standard lower than the probable cause needed to justify an arrest. Only about 10 percent of the stops result in arrests or summonses, and weapons are found about 2 percent of the time.

In the Playboy interview, Kelly defended the use of the tactic, dismissing an exit poll that found that 59 percent of Democratic primary voters considered the NYPD's stop-and-frisk practices excessive.

"Among the people, there's no groundswell against stop-and-frisk - certainly not in minority communities," Kelly said.

(Copyright ©2014 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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