Assemblyman Hakeem Jefferies, D-Fort Greene, called on Mayor Michael Bloomberg Thursday to form an investigative commission in the wake of a series of scandals involving the New York Police Department.
"We are deeply troubled and alarmed at the recent outbreak of corruption all across the city of New York that is staggering in its scope," Jeffries said.
State Sen. Eric Adams, Councilwoman Letitia James, Councilman Jumaane Williams, all D-Brooklyn, and civil rights attorney Norman Siegel joined the three-term Assemblyman in front of One Police Plaza in Lower Manhattan to demand the formation of an independent body with subpoena power to investigate the entire department.
"You can't have fulltime police officers moonlighting as criminals," said Adams, a former police officer in Fort Greene-Clinton Hill's 88th Precinct. "Something is not right in the police department and we need to get to the bottom of it."
In recent weeks, officers based in precincts throughout the city have been the subject of several serious corruption allegations ranging from gun running in Brooklyn, ticket fixing in The Bronx and a racially charged stop-and-frisk investigation in Staten Island
Jeffries, a leading proponent in Albany of ending police abuse of stop-and-frisk, characterized the string of charges against rank-and-file officers as indicative of a much larger problem.
"There is a culture of corruption that is festering like a cancer and it must be addressed," he said.
Lawmakers joined Siegel in calling for an investigation along the lines of the Knapp Commission, which was called into being in the 1970s in response to reports of systemic abuse of police power by whistleblower Frank Serpico.
However, at least one of the participants of today's news conference admitted that calling for a top-to-bottom investigation of a department largely responsible for historically low crime rates would be an uphill battle.
"People say, 'It was not as bad as it was then,'" said Williams, himself the subject of at last September's West Indian Day Parade. "But why do you want to wait when it's that bad to do something about it?"