New York City mayoral candidate Eric Adams, a former New York Police Department captain, said Friday that completely removing the city's qualified immunity policy for law enforcement is key to police reform.
"It's imperative to remove the qualified immunity, particularly with officers who recklessly disregard the role that they are carrying out," said the Brooklyn Borough President in an interview with CBSN. "But we should do it in a manner that we do not go after officers who are carrying out lawful actions."
Qualified immunity is a legal doctrine that protects government officials, including police officers, from civil lawsuits unless the official was found to irresponsibly exercise power. The principle has been criticized for decades for protecting law enforcement in cases like unreasonable searches and seizures and excessive force.
In March, the New York City Council passed legislation to limit qualified immunity for law enforcement, which would make it easier to sue officers for misconduct. The current status requires a victim to show that their "clearly established" constitutional or statutory rights were violated.
"I was arrested and I was assaulted badly by police officers," Adams said. "I was encouraged after that to go in and fight for reform inside and it's the combination that I bring; of looking at reform and justice but safety."
Public safety is one of the Democratic candidate's main priorities in his campaign. The NYPD reported there was a 97% increase in shootings from 2020 from 2019 and a 45% increase in shootings, according to the New York Daily News.
"My role as the mayor is to ensure that we stop the flow of guns in our city and address the gang members that are carrying out this form of illegal behavior," Adams said. "The first order of business is to get violence under control."
The candidate said Friday that he also believes the jury was justified in Derek Chauvin's guilty verdict for his convictions in the murder of George Floyd. Adams has consistently opposed reducing policing in his campaign and instead calls for reformation and justice to law enforcement.
"We have to keep our city safe but we also must have proper policing and redefine the term of policing in our country," Adams said.
The candidate, who was a New York state senator from 2006 to 2013, said that he will also focus on reopening businesses to reinvigorate the economy in wake of COVID-19. He said that he will come up with "clear regulations" to open up offices again.
In regards to a recent report from Politico that alleged that certain funds from Adam's charity had been spent on self-promotion, Adams said that it was "silly" and a tool of "creative journalism."
"We've followed every rule in every government to oversight," he said. "I'm so proud of what we have done."
New York City will hold its general election for mayor on November 2, 2021, although the winner of the Democratic primary on June 22 is heavily favorited to win. In a recent poll from Spectrum News 1, Adams was trailing frontrunner Andrew Yang 22% to 13%, but was ahead of other serious contenders Scott Stringer and Maya Wiley. The same poll had 26% of respondents undecided.
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