NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- There was an abrupt about-face Thursday from one of the leading candidates for mayor, over policing and public safety.
As the race has heated up, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn's support for Police Commissioner Ray Kelly has cooled off, CBS 2's Steve Langford reported.
For voters, one politician's flip-flop may be another's badly needed course correction, so as Democratic candidates for mayor jostle for primary votes come September, the potentially radioactive issue of the city's stop-and-frisk program and the future of its chief champion have one of the leading contenders for City Hall changing course.
"If I'm mayor, Ray Kelly will be offered that job with the clear charge you get stop and frisks down. You do that constitutionally. If you can't agree to that, don't take the job. If you take it and you don't do it, you'll get fired," Quinn said.
Quinn: If I'm Mayor And Kelly Wants To Keep Job, Stop-And-Frisk Must Come Down
What a difference a couple of weeks make. Here's what Quinn said about Kelly just 16 days ago.
"Whoever the next mayor is would be lucky if he stayed on and I would absolutely make that offer," Quinn said.
David Birdsell, the Dean of the School of Public Affairs at Baruch College, believes Quinn is just being realistic, given the looming federal court decision about the constitutionality of stop and frisk.
"The difference between statement one and two is that there has been a finding by the Justice Department that there's reason for oversight of the department. I think there's a pretty clear argument," Birdsell said. "For that middle of the road group, a good portion of Democratic primary voters, this may be an argument that resonates and helps Chris Quinn."
As WCBS 880's Rich Lamb reported, Mayor Michael Bloomberg made it crystal clear that he does not agree with Quinn's position on Kelly and stop-and-frisk.
Bloomberg did not talk about the mayoral hopeful herself, but did talk about the commissioner.
"Ray Kelly is a world-class commissioner. Most cities could not attract somebody like that. Whether he has any interest in being commissioner for another administration, you'd have to ask him," said Bloomberg.
The mayor also had high praise for the work police officers do every day.
"All of these proposals to restrict them, to make them spend more time testifying, to make then leery of connecting the dots and following the leads and trying to find the bad guys and get them off the streets," Bloomberg added.
Bloomberg added those proposals threaten the lives of cops and make no sense.
The police commissioner was not interested in getting of the middle of the campaign for mayor on Thursday, offering "no comment," but in lower Manhattan voters seemed split over Quinn's apparent move to drop Kelly.
"He's doing a good job at what he does, so I think they should keep him," one person said.
"She seems to be going with the wind you know? If the election was held today I probably wouldn't vote for her," another person said.
"I'm glad that she seems to have changed on that note," another added.
Most Democratic candidates for mayor want changes in how the NYPD uses stop and frisk, while Republicans seem to support the policy and the police commissioner.
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