The Council hopefuls battling to represent Coney Island clashed over policing tactics at a recent forum, and the Republican candidate managed to drag his Democratic opponent decidedly to the right.
In an exchange sparked by an audience question about the controversial policy of “stop-and-frisk,” Tea Party darling Andy Sullivan pressed Democrat Mark Treyger until the self-described progressive declared he may seek to repeal a recent city law limiting the practice which had become a rallying point for his party and it’s mayoral nominee Bill DeBalsio.
Treyger, a former aide to Assemblyman Bill Colton (D–Bensonhurst) and president of the United Progressive Democratic Club, told the audience at the Oct. 2 Brooklyn Real Estate Board’s candidate forum that he believed that Mayor Bloomberg’s statistics-driven approach to battling crime has turned stop-and-frisk into a wedge between the city’s Finest and the people they protect. He said the practice could be a useful crime-fighting measure, but argued it has been abused.
“The mayor has pitted police against communities,” Treyger claimed.
Sullivan jumped on Treyger’s nuanced stance and challenged him to stake out an unequivocal position.
“It’s going to be black and white.,” said Sullivan. “Are you going to support the cops, or are you going to go against them?”
Treyger initially tried to hold onto the middle ground.
“I support the cops, I trust the police when they tell me stop, question, and frisk can be an effective tool,” said Treyger.
But Sullivan continued to press for a simple answer.
“Yes or no?” Sullivan demanded. “Answer the question.”
“I support it when it is used right and not abused,” said Treyger.
Sullivan then demanded to know if Treyger supported the Community Safety Act, a pair of bills passed in June that broadened the ability of citizens to sue the police for discrimination, and created a new oversight office for the NYPD. Treyger criticized the legislation — then said he would seek to see it rolled back.
“You mean the bill that already passed? I oppose that,” Treyger said. “I would consider supporting, consider proposing legislation that allows police to do police work.”
Term-limited Councilman Domenic Recchia (D–Coney Island), whom both candidates are vying to succeed was among the 10 representatives who voted against the Community Safety Act when it was before the Council.
The policy known as “stop-and -risk” — whereby police randomly detain and inspect citizens for guns and drugs — has come under fire because 90 percent of those stopped and searched are black or Hispanic, and a federal judge declared it unconstitutional in August.