A new Quinnipiac University poll has found that a vast majority of New York voters support the establishment of an independent inspector general to monitor the NYPD. In light of an ongoing landmark federal lawsuit (and growing public outcry) over the police department’s use of stop-and-frisk tactics that disproportionately target and harass young black and Latino men in New York, calls for greater oversight have amplified in recent months. Via Quinnipiac:
New York City voters, by a substantial 66 – 25 percent margin, support creating the position of inspector general to independently monitor the Police Department… Support ranges from 53 – 38 percent among white voters to 77 – 13 percent among Hispanic voters and 78 – 13 percent among black voters, the independent Quinnipiac University poll finds… Support is 51 – 42 percent among Republicans and 55 – 35 percent among voters over 55 years old. Voters in every other political, gender, age and income groups support the NYPD inspector general idea by 60 percent or more.
The poll findings align with the results of another recent Quinnipiac survey, noted in Salon, which found that the majority of New Yorkers oppose the NYPD’s controversial stop-and-frisk policy. 55 to 39 percent of voters said they disapprove of the tactic and 44 to 22 percent that they are less likely rather than more likely to vote for a mayoral candidate who supports continuing stop-and-frisk.
Both the NYPD and the Bloomberg administration have pushed back against the idea of an inspector general, claiming that the police department already has ample oversight. However, as noted here, the political tides are changing when it comes to reforming police practices in New York. As I wrote last month:
While Mayor Bloomberg’s administration has long maintained that independent oversight of the NYPD is not necessary, his ally, City Council Speaker (and mayoral candidate) Christine Quinn announced Tuesday that lawmakers had reached a deal to install an inspector general to monitor the vast police department. The call for an inspector general, who could have investigative powers and the ability to issue subpoenas, followed mounting evidence of widespread discriminatory policing, both in the form of stop-and-frisks (over 86 percent of which target black and Latino New Yorkers) and the NYPD’s spying on Muslim communities. For a careful politician like Quinn to support such a proposal reflects a shifting political tide towards reform.
… [when it comes to police reform and oversight] we find ourselves at a moment long overdue in the eyes of civil rights advocates, activists and millions of New Yorkers: Momentum in the courts, city politics and the streets is driving in the same direction.