New York City Council overrides Mayor Eric Adams' vetoes on solitary confinement ban, police transparency bill

Luiz C. Ribeiro for NY Daily News via Getty Images

(NEW YORK) -- The New York City Council voted Tuesday to override Mayor Eric Adams’ vetoes on a solitary confinement ban and a bill to document police stops.

The council voted 42-9.

"Public safety is a collective effort, but it can only be achieved when there is transparency and accountability and policing," said City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams on Tuesday in support of the bills. "Black and Latino New Yorkers continue to be disproportionately subjected to unconstitutional stops that go underreported. Civilian complaints of misconduct are at their highest levels in a decade. These stops can no longer happen in the shadows."

Mayor Adams slammed the decision to override the veto.

These bills will make New Yorkers less safe on the streets, while police officers are forced to fill out additional paperwork rather than focus on helping New Yorkers and strengthening community bonds," he said in a statement. "Additionally, it will make staff in our jails and those in our custody less safe by impairing our ability to hold those who commit violent acts accountable."

The bill on solitary confinement would require all people in city custody to have at least 14 hours of out-of-cell time in a congregate setting "unless for the purpose of de-escalation confinement or during emergency lock-ins," which would limit the confinement to a maximum of four hours after an incident or confrontation.

A “How Many Stops” bill on police data would require the NYPD to publicly report on police-civilian investigative stops and consent searches, as well as to expand NYPD reporting on vehicle stops to include the justification and the type of offense observed, as well as other data connected to vehicle stops. Lawmakers who wrote the bill said this is not intended to apply to non-investigative, informal conversations with civilians.

Eric Adams, a former NYPD captain and transit officer, vetoed the solitary confinement bill on Jan. 19 because a veto would “keep those in our custody and our correction officers safer," he said in a statement after vetoing the legislation.

Eric Adams said if the bill were to take effect, "the Department of Correction would no longer be able to protect people in custody, or the union workers charged with their safety, from violent individuals."

Current city policy uses the term "restrictive housing" rather than solitary confinement.

The current policy requires someone placed in this "restrictive housing" to have a minimum of seven hours outside of their cell, according to the Board of Corrections. Steve Martin, the court-appointed monitor to the city's correctional facilities, argues this policy does not constitute solitary confinement, which traditionally refers to the limitation of out-of-cell time to up to four hours a day.

Legislators behind the bill said ending solitary confinement will reduce violence in correctional facilities and end a practice they say causes "harm" to incarcerated populations.

"We cannot allow the human rights and safety crisis on Rikers to continue by maintaining the status quo of failed policies and practices," said Adrienne Adams in a statement on Eric Adams' veto. "This legislation has broad support and advances a new approach to reduce violence and prioritize safety."

Regarding the “How Many Stops” bill,” Eric Adams called the bill “misguided.”

“This bill will handcuff our police by drowning officers in unnecessary paperwork that will saddle taxpayers with tens of millions of dollars in additional NYPD overtime each year,” the mayor said.

Legislators argued that the bill is aimed at creating transparency in police stops, as the NYPD has long been under scrutiny over allegations of discriminatory policing by marginalized communities.

"I am here to tell you as someone who works professionally within that system, this is not a burden," said New York City Council Member Tiffany Caban, who previously worked as a public defender. "This is doing the right thing. And if we are going to solve the issues of racist, biased policing outcomes, then we must have the data to do so."

ABC News' Tesfaye Negussie contributed to this report.

Tuesday, January 30, 2024 at 5:36PM by Kiara Alfonseca, ABC News Permalink