Despite veto, mayor has to enforce ‘Stops Act’


When the City Council overrode Mayor Eric Adams’ veto of the “How Many Stops Act” last week it seemed like a win for police transparency and city residents who are questioned by and detained by police.

But was it really necessary? The original legislation, that is.

The mayor believes the bill sponsored by public advocate Jumaane Williams will “handcuff our police by drowning officers in unnecessary paperwork” while adding to New York Police Department overtime costs. Besides, he said, all that information is being collected already and posted online.

The bill, which now becomes law, requires the NYPD to provide quarterly reports detailing information on three levels of investigative encounters between police and civilians. Additionally, they would have to collect information on the race, gender, ethnicity and age of every individual who is approached.

The legislation requires information on three levels of interactions: level 1 where police ask people questions during a canvass, level 2 where police are speaking with a person under suspicion of a crime but is free to walk away and level 3 where police interrogate a person believed to have committed a crime and are not free to immediately leave.

In addition to Adams, several law enforcement and advocacy groups have voiced their opposition arguing it would slow NYPD response times and erode police-community relationships. Some of those in opposition include District Attorney Darcel Clark and Community Board 8 public safety committee chair Ed Green.

On the other hand, the reason for the legislation in the first place was to protect people who were affected by a level 1 or level 2 stop that were never reported but ended in tragedy. The idea was to make NYPD more accountable and the information they collect more transparent, according to Council speaker Adrienne Adams.

“By collecting and disclosing date on investigative stops, the How Many Stops Act will bring forth a fuller picture of these encounters, fostering accountability and trust between the police and the communities they serve,” she said.

Councilman Dinowitz, who voted to approve the bill, admitted that he had reservations about it when he first heard about the legislation, but his concerns were alleviated upon learning more.

“I initially had concerns about the additional paperwork or administrative tasks an officer would have to do but after having conversations with community members, NYPD officers, two things became clear,” he said. “One is that this bill is going to produce much needed transparency on an issue that impacts a lot of people. We are unable to have conversations about police and civilian interactions in a lot of ways because we don’t know what those interactions look like.”

According to the mayor, there really isn’t a need for the legislation because police officers already log all level 1, 2, 3 interactions from the body cams, tagging them and uploading to evidence.com. If this indeed is the case, he has a point about adding unnecessary time and paperwork to officers’ workload. That could be time best spent on the streets making them safe for civilians.

“From our law enforcement officers and district attorneys to our faith leaders, from the business community to the editorial boards, and from the federal monitor to parents like Yanely Henriquez — who lost her daughter Angellyh (Yambo) to gun violence nearly two years ago — New Yorkers have been clear that they want their officers on the streets… to come home to their families at night,” the mayor said in response to the veto override.

“I share the City Council’s goal of increasing transparency in government, and our administration has remained at the table to negotiate in good faith throughout this entire process to achieve that mission,” he asked.

“But the answer is not to compromise public safety or justice for the victims of violence.”

The mayor offered an olive branch, of sorts, saying he would partner with the City Council to address residents’ concerns in the period leading up to implementation.

However, the mayor has to make sure the information that is collected is disseminated better than it has been in the past.

That is key to protecting the safety of the public. And with the proliferation of technology available to NYPD, the collection of information should not impede its dissemination.

The mayor has to make his information collection unit as accountable as the officers on the street. 

veto, Eric Adams, New York City Council, How Many Stops Act, information, transparency, paperwork, cops, police officers, NYPD