The Democratic front-runners have distinct stands on the two measures. Comptroller Bill Thompson supporting neither proposal; he wants an inspector general, but not one independent from the NYPD. Council Speaker Christine Quinn backs only the inspector general bill. Public Advocate Bill de Blasio wants both Intros.
In the Wednesday night debate, Thompson—echoed by Quinn—accused de Blasio of running a misleading commercial claiming to be the only candidate prepared to deal with the excesses of stop-and-frisk; de Blasio's defense was that, since he's the only major candidate who supports both the profiling ban and the inspector general bill, he can make that claim. (The public advocate also says Quinn's willingness to keep Ray Kelly as police commissioner will prevent her from reforming the practice.)
Earlier in the debate, de Blasio asked Quinn whether she'd continue to oppose the profiling ban in Thursday's Council vote, and Quinn said she'd still vote “nay” for two reasons. For one thing, the bill gives state courts a role in adjudicating complaints over profiling, and Quinn argued that could lead to contradictory rulings if federal courts also weigh in—as they did last week.
For another, Quinn said, the city already bans profiling.
Comparing Intro. 1080 to the city's current profiling ban (section 14-151 of the administrative code), it's clear that—as Quinn claims—the new bill would give people a new right to pursue complaints about alleged profiling in state court, though they can't pursue monetary damages.
Proponents say that's necessary because the current profiling ban contains no enforcement mechanism, and because it's harder to get a case into federal court. While some predict that in practice there'll be no mob rushing the courthouse, there's no question that the law would create the potential for more litigation.
But does New York already ban profiling? Yes and no.
Current city law prohibits targeting people because of their “race, ethnicity, religion or national origin” The new law would expand this to include “color, creed, age, alienage or citizenship status, gender, sexual orientation, disability, or housing status.” And while the current law bans individual officers from profiling, the new bill adds a prohibition on systemic profiling.
So, it is true that a city ban on racial profiling is in place, though it is limited in its scope and comes with no clear enforcement mechanism.