Thursday, April 18, 2013

An Op-Ed From Bill Thompson

Here is an Op Ed piece from Mayoral candidate Bill Thompson on why he is running for Mayor.

April 18, 2013

Bill Thompson

I'm running for Mayor because I want to make sure that this city's economic future and promise of opportunity is bright for every New Yorker.

To ensure that, businesses need safe streets so they can grow and create jobs. Parents need safe streets so they don't have to worry about their kids getting safely home from school. And kids need safe schools so they can grow into young adults with skills to succeed.

This city has made great strides in reducing crime over the last decade, and we should praise Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Kelly for their leadership.

We also need to praise the police officers and commanders that walk our streets everyday and keep us safe.

The act of terrorism in Boston - and acts of senseless violence everywhere - further my belief that we need the best, most experienced police officers on our streets. Have no doubt - the beat cop is the first, and best way to stop terrorism and fight crime.

The NYPD has fallen below 35,000 police officers, down from 41,000 in 2001. That’s too low, and it stretches the force to the limit. That's why I have called for placing an additional 2,000 police officers on city streets and a new strategy of deploying our most experienced officers. These steps will give us the expert boots on the ground we need to respond to any and all crisis moments, and help develop stronger bonds with community leaders and stop crime before it happens.

CompStat can tell us what neighborhoods are violent. But we need the people who live there to tell us which corners and which alleys are the criminals’ hang outs. We need to build stronger partnership between communities and the police.

But our police force won’t be able to create the relationships they need unless the communities they patrol trust them.

Stop and frisk can be an important tool for police officers but it has been abused by this Administration. In some cases, witnesses have said the Police Department has assigned stop and frisk quotas to officers. Far too many people are being stopped for what appears to be no other reason than their age and the color of their skin. That's wrong - and it will end the moment I take the oath of office. My administration will use meaningful data to understand why crime is low in certain neighborhoods, and make targeted stops on streets with high crime so that we are stopping criminals, not innocent people. We shouldn’t care how many stops are made – we should care how many crimes are stopped. As Mayor, that will be my focus.
We also need more openness and transparency inside the Police Department, which is why I support the appointment of an Inspector General inside the Police Department.
But what we really need is a Mayor who understands that protecting people’s safety and protecting people’s rights are both the Mayor’s job. I’m not going to outsource that responsibility to anyone.
I have a 15-year-old stepson. Like me, he’s black. There’s nothing more important to me than his safety, and the safety of everyone in my family. I worry about him being mugged. I worry about him being shot by a gang member.

But right now, I also have to worry about him being stopped by the police for no other reason than his age and the color of his skin. He loves this city, and he should never feel like this city doesn’t love him back. And I should not have to sacrifice my son’s constitutional rights for his safety. Not in America. Not in New York.

But New Yorkers deserve to know that every square inch of this city is open for them to safely live, work, and raise their kids, and that it is the Mayor’s job to keep them safe. 

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