NYC Mayor de Blasio would lose authority over NYPD under state AG’s plan: report

An independent panel – not the mayor -- would appoint the city’s police commissioner and oversee the NYPD under a state plan

Recent protests in New York City have shaken the public’s faith in the city’s police department to the point where Mayor Bill de Blasio should no longer have authority in law enforcement matters, New York’s state attorney general said Wednesday.

“I believe we need to bridge the undeniable divide between police and public,” Letitia James told reporters, according to The New York Times.

As part of her recommendations, James called for an independent panel – not de Blasio -- to appoint the city’s police commissioner and oversee hirings and firings at the NYPD.

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A de Blasio spokeswoman quickly dismissed the plan from James -- an ally of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has long feuded with the mayor. Both Cuomo and de Blasio are Democrats.

“While we thank the attorney general for her investigation and look forward to reviewing the report in full and working together to further reform policing in this city, we do not believe creating a commission to oversee the NYPD does that,” de Blasio spokeswoman Freddi Goldstein told the Times.

In June, Cuomo blasted de Blasio’s handling of the rioting in the city, calling it a “disgrace” and threatening to “displace” the mayor at some point, if necessary.

President Trump has also ripped de Blasio, after the mayor announced plans to have "Black Lives Matter" painted on Fifth Avenue outside Trump Tower -- while simultaneously looking to cut $1 billion from the NYPD budget.

Prompting James’ report on the NYPD, and her subsequent recommendations, were a series of incidents that occurred during protests and rioting in the city that followed the May 25 death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis.

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In one instance, an NYPD officer was seen on video shoving a young woman to the ground, resulting in her suffering a concussion. In another incident, a police officer was seen pulling down the mask of a protester before pepper-spraying him in the face. In a third incident, a police officer was seen waving a gun at a crowd after an object struck a fellow officer in the head.

De Blasio’s critics also include U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., who said during a Wednesday appearance on Fox News’ “Outnumbered Overtime” that the second-term mayor “has to be removed from office.”

“This is a tale of two cities,” Zeldin said. “You have the direction that New York City can be filled with opportunity, it can be filled with law and order, safety and security, peace and prosperity -- or it’ll be this direction that Bill de Blasio is taking it down, which is chaos and lawlessness and poverty and a lack of opportunity.”

De Blasio has partially blamed the uptick in violence on the coronavirus pandemic, pointing to an "absence of a functioning court system" among other issues.

"But the NYPD continues to move resources where they are needed and come up with new strategies. It is different from past years because we're dealing with a much greater challenge. But we will beat it,” the mayor said Wednesday.

James’ 57-page report also calls for the NYPD to end its practice of “kettling,” in which officers surround protesters, then move in against them and use batons on them before making arrests, the Times reported.

The report also urges the city to legalize or decriminalize more minor, “quality of life” offenses, saying many “are already not greatly enforced in predominately white neighborhoods."

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Doing so, the report states, would decrease “unnecessary contact with police and the criminal justice system.”

The report also urges people to stop relying on police in certain instances, such as traffic enforcement, school safety, homeless outreach and crisis intervention, and states that “everything must be on the table.”

De Blasio, who limited by law to two terms, is scheduled to leave office Jan. 1, 2022.

 Fox News’ Charles Creitz and Stephanie Pagones contributed to this story.