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September 22, 2014 / 27 Elul, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘profiling’

Improving the NYPD while Protecting our Cops

Thursday, July 11th, 2013

Two drastically different laws recently passed the New York City Council. One will make the New York City Police Department a better agency; the other may open it up to endless lawsuits and could hurt the NYPD’s ability to police effectively. That’s why I voted for the first law and voted against the second one.

The first law, which I proudly supported, creates the position of inspector general to oversee the police department and make sure its policies and procedures are effective. This is a very important piece of legislation. I have always stood for greater transparency, accountability and openness in all aspects of government, whether it’s the annual budget process where I invite every organization to apply for funding or when I demand transparency from agencies like the MTA. The people of this city deserve to know exactly how their money is being spent and how our laws are being enforced.

This legislation simply creates independent oversight similar to what is in place in the next five largest American cities. The model works so well that our nation’s finest law enforcement agencies, including the CIA, FBI and Department of Homeland Security, all have inspectors general. Even the IRS has an inspector general and thanks to its work we now know that the IRS was targeting conservative and pro-Israel groups for additional scrutiny when they applied for non-profit status. Simply put, the more powerful the agency, the greater the need for oversight to ensure that our citizens’ rights are being protected.

The inspector general would review NYPD policies and procedures and then make nonbinding recommendations to the mayor and City Council. It would ultimately create a safer New York by protecting citizens against illegal police practices, improving police-community relations, fostering more accountability at the NYPD and bringing greater efficiency to the department by eliminating waste. What will emerge is a stronger NYPD that’s more responsive to New Yorkers.

On the other hand, the last thing I want to do is make our police officers’ jobs more difficult and our city less safe. That’s why I voted against the second law – known as the stop and frisk legislation. This legislation expands the definition of what is considered bias-based profiling by preventing police officers from using characteristics such as age, gender, race or national origin as the reason for conducting stop, question and frisks in New York City. Even worse, it opens up police officers to individual lawsuits if any person they stop believes they were stopped for the wrong reason.

I firmly believe in an open, tolerant, bias-free New York City where we are not judged on the basis of the different characteristics that make each of us unique. However, I am concerned that this legislation will impact one of the most fundamental aspects of policing – the ability for an officer to act on information he receives from a crime victim regarding the suspect’s race, age, or other factors that will help in identifying and then questioning a suspect.

It is already illegal to conduct bias-based profiling, and there is no need for legislation that will make the job of police officers that much harder and open up individual police officers, who are simply doing their jobs, to endless lawsuits from aggrieved individuals.

Much of the basis for this legislation is the legitimate debate over the NYPD’s use of its stop, question and frisk program to prevent crime and get guns off our streets. While there are some important questions about the overuse of this tactic, no one denies that stop, question and frisk is one of the tools that has lowered crime in New York City. I am all for debate over how this practice is used or whether it is overused, but to pass a law that would force individual police officers to go to court to defend a routine part of their jobs seems excessive.

One of my top priorities – and greatest responsibilities – as a City Council member is to make sure the NYPD has the ability to keep every New Yorker safe. Nothing is more important than knowing my constituents can safely walk down their streets without fearing for their lives or personal safety.

When I grew up in the city it was not an uncommon occurrence for people to get mugged or to have their cars stolen or their homes broken into. Happily, those days are long gone. The NYPD is doing an incredible job of keeping crime at record lows and increasing safety in our neighborhoods. We can always do better, which is why I am proud to support the creation of the position of inspector general to improve policing here in New York City and why I voted against stop and frisk legislation that may prevent ordinary cops from doing their jobs.

After all, my job as a councilman is to represent my constituents, but it’s also to look after the city’s employees – in this case our police officers who put their lives on the line for us every day. My votes on the two bills will make New Yorkers safer while protecting the cops on the beat.

Israeli ‘Profiling’

Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

Profiling is a reality in Israel.Yes, we profile people as they quickly pass through checkpoints, malls, restaurants, even in the cars that pass us. After Arab tractor drivers began ramming their vehicles into buses and Israeli civilians, we began profiling the tractor drivers too. The profiling is done in seconds. The army  has its own rules and recommendations; bus passengers have theirs; we all do. What is the possibility that the person getting on the bus is going to blow it up – once that was a major issue; today, thanks to massive, on-going intelligence work, the Security Fence that separates Palestinians from Israelis, and vigilant guards, this thought is in our minds less and less – but it is still there.

Years ago, a woman was on a bus in Tel Aviv and an Arab got on the bus; everything inside of her said he was a terrorist. Without thinking, without hesitating, she got off the bus. Feeling silly because she would now need to wait for another bus to take her to work, she turned for a second and then heard a huge explosion – just one block away, the bus she’d been on had been attacked by the terrorist she correctly profiled.

I don’t know why I wrote all this – it isn’t the profiling I wanted to talk about – the one I wanted to write about is the profiling we do of our own sons as they enter the army. There is a concept in Judaism that we strive to be perfect, knowing we’ll never get there. God is perfect – the rest of us…we try to emulate God in all we do, knowing we’ll never succeed but will be rewarded for the effort.

I cringe when I hear parents say they have a perfect child – no child is perfect…nor is any human being. One of the things I love about Israel is the army rating system. They have to choose which sons can go into combat units and which ones cannot. They do this with a profile – a rating system. It ranges from down in the 20s (these will be given a deferral and not have to serve) up through the 70s where they participate in the army in non-combat roles. Somewhere in the low 70s, they are borderline combat and up on the 90s, it’s only a question of which unit, and their agreement.

The highest score is not 100 – that would mean perfection. I don’t know if it is true, but I heard once that they deduct 3 points from boys because they are circumcised and 3 points from girls because they have a menstrual cycle. It isn’t that either of these are bad (in fact, they are very good), but it’s as good a reason as any…and so, the top score you can get is 97.

Davidi came to my office a while ago – I was so glad to see him. I didn’t realize how much I wanted/needed to see him until he came in – just as I was finishing a class. “97″ he told me and I remembered how Elie and Shmulik had told me the same. It’s a blessing, that high score…a blessing…and a bit of a curse. The first thing the army thinks of with a 97 is – here’s a combat soldier, where should we put them.

What’s nice is that they ask. There’s no use forcing a boy into a combat unit if they aren’t willing to make the commitment. There is a discipline he must follow; a way of life he must learn. With that simple question, he is agreeing to follow orders, to sleep when he is told to sleep, to use the allocated amount of time to do each task. He’s committing to three months of basic training, perhaps more and then more training, and then more. Davidi told them he agreed to go into a combat unit. He told them he wants to be a paramedic.

He didn’t tell them that I want him to go into Artillery – where you fight …. so many kilometers behind the front lines. He didn’t tell them that I’m holding on, not wanting him to rush into what he will do and where he will go. The boy returned to me today – he played on the computer in my office and told me he was hungry.

We laughed about some of the things – the computer test, the medical parts, and the physical examination. He turned a bright shade of red when I joked about the 97, “how do they know? Do they check?”

And he answered, “yes” as he looked towards the front of my office to make sure our secretary couldn’t hear the conversation.

I had no idea the physical examination was…so physical and yes, he was circumcised when he was 8 days old, as is our tradition. He was given the name of his grandfather who had died almost exactly a year before Davidi was born. His grandfather was a Holocaust survivor, whose grandsons will be fighters in the army of Israel. David Levi couldn’t raise a weapon to the Nazis, though he fought back in so many little ways.

I can’t help but believe he is watching my Davidi from the heavens and I know he would be so proud of this so-tall, so-beautiful boy.

Today, my son was profiled. 97….

May God watch over my son, my sons, all the soldiers of Israel and may they be protected, with the names and in the names of their grandfathers.

Visit A Soldier’s Mother.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/a-soldiers-mother/israeli-profiling/2013/01/15/

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