Mayor Eric Adams on Friday vetoed the How Many Stops Act — which would beef up transparency requirements on the NYPD — setting the stage for a dramatic showdown with the City Council, whose leaders immediately pledged to override the mayoral attempt to block the bill.
Adams, who suffered a major political blow last year when the Council overrode his veto of a housing-related legislative package, announced the latest executive action during a morning press conference at City Hall.
He argued that that the How Many Stops bill’s proposal to mandate that NYPD officers log every encounter they have with civilians that’s investigative in nature would be “extremely detrimental to public safety” as it’d bury them in “paperwork” and take time away from actual policing.
“It is a pro-public safety veto that I’m doing today,” said Adams, who was joined in the City Hall Blue Room by a long list of NYPD brass and union leaders, including Commissioner Edward Caban and Chief of Department Jeffrey Maddrey.
Within minutes of the announcement, Council Speaker Adrienne Adams and newly-minted Council Public Safety Committee Chairman Yusef Salaam vowed to override the veto and accused the mayor of peddling a “false narrative” about the bill with an aim to “mislead and incite fear” among New Yorkers.
“These actions only raise questions about why this administration fears sharing data with New Yorkers about the use of their tax dollars. NYPD officers and our entire city deserve better,” the two Council Democrats said in a statement. “The Council remains committed to honest dialogue about policy, and we are prepared to override this veto to ensure that New Yorkers receive a more accurate accounting from their city that can make our neighborhoods safer.”
Adams declined to immediately say whether he’d veto a separate public safety bill he vehemently opposes from the Council that would prohibit solitary confinement on Rikers Island and in other city jails.
But the mayor did say he believes the solitary confinement ban bill, which is set to automatically lapse into law at midnight Friday barring a veto, would put city correction officers “in difficult situations on difficult jobs.”
Council leaders have previously promised to override any veto the mayor issues of the solitary confinement ban bill, too.
A veto override requires support from at least two thirds — or 34 — of the Council’s 51 members.
The How Many Stops Act passed the chamber in December with support from 35 members, just clearing the veto-proof threshold. Several new members have joined the Council since then, though, potentially providing the mayor with an opening to convince some of them to vote against an override.
Speaker Adams and most of her Democratic colleagues say the bill would usher in important reforms to the city’s public safety apparatus.
The legislation, introduced by Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, would require that NYPD officers report basic information into a department database about all interactions with civilians that have an investigative purpose. Supporters of the bill say such reporting can be done via a cellphone app and should take no longer than a few seconds.
Under current law, officers are only required to document so-called “Level 3” stops, where cops confront an individual because they have reasonable suspicion that person is engaging in a crime. Should the How Many Stops Act become law, cops would need to document all Level 1 and Level 2 stops, too, the first category of which doesn’t require any suspicion of a crime and could include functions like asking for identification or stopping someone on the street to inquire whether they’ve seen a missing person.
Proponents of the legislation say the expanded transparency rules would make officers think twice about conducting certain stops — a firewall they deem critical at a time that the NYPD’s federal monitor reports unconstitutional police stops of Black and Brown New Yorkers remain common.
“This is a basic reporting bill, rooted in what the NYPD is already required to do, and yet the mayor has engaged in the most flagrant misinformation campaign I have seen from any administration in my time in office, misleading both the public and the police,” Williams said in a statement after the mayor’s veto. “Through simple reporting on NYPD stops, we can prevent the kinds of bias-based policing we’ve seen in the past, build trust in often over-policed areas, and continue the work that began a decade ago amid the height of the abuses of stop, question, and Frisk.”
Though Williams maintains reporting on Level 1 and Level 2 stops shouldn’t take longer than “literally 10-20 seconds,” the mayor and NYPD leaders say it would take several minutes.
Maddrey, the NYPD’s highest-ranking uniformed officer, said at Friday’s press conference that he would’ve had to log a time he offered some water to a runner who looked dizzy during last year’s marathon under the How Many Stops Act.
“We don’t need to create any more work for these officers,” Maddrey said.
Despite the harsh rhetorical exchanges, Adams, a retired NYPD captain, said there are some “good intensions” in the Council’s bill and added he’s open to the idea of mandating reporting for Level 2 stops, which involve cops confronting a person they believe are engaged in a crime based on a “founded suspicion.”
“In no way do I want anyone to think this is an anti-Council veto or an anti-speaker veto,” said the mayor, whose working relationship with Council Democrats has become increasingly strained.
If the Council manages to override Adams’ How Many Stops Act veto, it’ll add another stain to the mayor’s intergovernmental record.
Before it quashed Adams’ veto of a package of housing voucher reforms last summer, the Council had not pulled off an override in a decade.
Though the fate of the solitary confinement ban bill was not immediately clear, one Adams ally, Queens Councilman Bob Holden, a conservative Democrat, issued a statement thanking the mayor for vetoing that legislation, too.
Spokespeople for Adams did not immediately return requests for clarity.
Under the jails-related bill, which was also introduced by Williams, inmates who pose a direct risk of violence to others or themselves could only be put in “de-escalation” units for four hours at a time. Those who are involved in violent incidents could face longer stints in “restrictive housing,” though they’d need to be allowed out of their cells for 14 hours every day and get access to the programs on hand for the general population.
Currently, inmates can be held in isolation for 10 hours at a time. But advocates have said that restriction is routinely violated, with some inmates ending up spending over a day in isolation.
Williams and other supporters of a ban have pointed to studies from the United Nations finding extended periods of solitary confinement amounts to “torture” and greatly increases the risk of suicide.
The mayor, along with Department of Correction leaders and union reps, have countered that stripping the agency of the ability to isolate inmates for extended periods would exacerbate dangerous conditions on Rikers. In October 2022, then-Correction Commissioner Louis Molina even asked for permission to increase the number of permissible isolation hours to 17.