Mayor Adams vetoes How Many Stops bill, says it would make NYC streets 'less safe'
New York City’s mayor has vetoed legislation aimed at providing more transparency about police encounters with civilians, setting up a faceoff with the City Council, which says it has enough votes to override him.
Democratic Mayor Eric Adams announced Friday that he rejected the bill, known as the “How Many Stops Act,” which requires officers to publicly report on all investigative stops, including relatively low-level encounters with civilians.
Police are currently only required to fill out reports following “reasonable suspicion” stops, where an officer has the legal authority to search and detain someone.
The Democratic-led City Council approved the measure in the final days of 2023 with enough votes to overrule a mayoral veto and ensure that the bill becomes law unless several members change their stance.
In a statement Friday, Speaker Adrienne Adams confirmed that the council is prepared to override Adams, arguing that more transparency is needed in policing because civilian complaints against officers are at their highest level in more than a decade.
“The false narrative that we cannot have transparency is bad for our city, and belies the fact that accountability is vital to improving public safety by increasing trust,” she said in the joint statement with Councilmember Yusef Salaam, a Harlem Democrat and exonerated “Central Park Five” member.
Adams has argued that the expanded reporting requirements would only bog down officers in paperwork, putting public safety at risk.
Among other things, the legislation would require the NYPD to report on where the stops happen, demographic information on the person stopped, the reason for the encounter, and whether the encounter led to any use-of-force or enforcement action.
“We don’t want to handcuff police. We want to handcuff bad people. That’s the goal,” Adams said Friday at a City Hall news conference flanked by community members and law enforcement officials. “It’s about making sure we’re not preventing them from doing their job.”
The city last year saw a drop in overall crime, including a 12% decline in homicides and a 25% decrease in shootings, according to the mayor's office.
“Crime is down. Jobs are up. The city is moving the right direction,” Adams said. “Allow us to continue the job we started.”
Local groups that support the measure urged the council to immediately hold an override vote.
Communities United for Police Reform said the veto showed the mayor’s “blatant disregard” for the safety and rights of communities of color that are disproportionately subjected to police stops.
“Under the mayor, unconstitutional stop-and-frisk is at its highest level since 2015 and police misconduct reports are up 51%, yet he cares more about shielding his police department’s discriminatory and abusive practices than protecting New Yorkers,” Sala Cyril, an organization spokesperson, said in a statement.
New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, who introduced the bill, dismissed Adams’ strident criticism as “fear-mongering” and misinformation.
“A full understanding of the legislation makes it clear that enacting these reforms will be good for public safety, while preventing them will make our city less safe,” he said in a statement Thursday in anticipation of the mayor’s veto.
In recent days, the mayor's office and police department have rolled out social media campaigns slamming the new requirements for police.
“Do we want ‘New York’s Finest’ doing paper work or police work?” Adams wrote on X, formerly Twitter, in a Thursday post to his 1.5 million followers that linked to a video critical of the measure. “This change will further put pressure on already strained NYPD manpower and community relations,” the police department wrote in a video posted on its X this week.
Adams has also been weighing vetoing legislation the council passed in late December aimed at banning solitary confinement in city jails. Adams argues that banning it would make the facilities more dangerous for inmates and staff.
That bill, which the mayor has until Friday to veto, would place a four-hour limit on isolating inmates who pose an immediate risk of violence to others or themselves in “de-escalation” units.
Only those involved in violent incidents could be placed in longer-term restrictive housing, and they would need to be allowed out of their cells for 14 hours each day and get access to the same programming available to other inmates.