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Mayoral candidate Quinn calls 'stop-and-frisk' out of control

Updated 11:47 a.m.
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn listens during a discussion about health and wellness on Tuesday, May 14, 2013, at Barnard College in New York. (Photo by Bebeto Matthews/AP)
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn listens during a discussion about health and wellness on Tuesday, May 14, 2013, at Barnard College in New York.

Updated 11:47 a.m.

New York mayoral candidate Christine Quinn called the city’s controversial stop-and-frisk policy “out of control” but stopped short of calling for its removal.

“I would not get rid of the stop-and-frisk practice, but it has gotten out of control,” Quinn said Tuesday during an appearance on Morning Joe. “We’ve had, at its peak, 700,000 stops. Single digits of those lead to arrests or guns or any significant contraband. Clearly that was not being done in a constitutionally sound way.”

New York has come under fire for its stop-and-frisk policy, which encourages police to stop and search people under suspicion of wrongdoing. Critics say the policy is unproductive and institutionalized racial profiling. A federal judge is currently deciding on the legality of the policy. If it is struck down, the Justice Department has requested that the judge also appoint a monitor to oversee the police department. Quinn noted that the City Council, under her leadership as speaker, recently passed legislation aimed at implementing greater oversight of police practices. She added that crime has gone down, despite a recent reduction of stops.

“Stops have gone down over the last two quarters, and crime has gone down, so the facts have shown that you do not need stops at that level to keep the city safe,” Quinn said. “[Stop-and-frisk] has torn communities and police apart and that’s a danger to long-term public safety as well.”

Quinn is arguably the only obstacle in Anthony Weiner’s pursuit to be mayor—the pair are in a dead heat with Weiner in the race, according to recent polls.

After seven years as speaker, Quinn is running on her record of pushy pragmatism and compromise against Weiner’s big ideas and name recognition.

It’s a contrast she’s quick to stress.

“We all think people deserve second chances, but the thing about second chances is you need to earn them,” she said of her once-disgraced opponent. “If you compare Anthony Weiner's record—he passed one bill in Congress and it was a bill that was clearly at the request of a campaign donor.”

Quinn would be the first woman and first openly gay person to serve as mayor of the country's largest city if elected.

She stressed her legislative record on Tuesday’s Morning Joe, adding that “that’s what people need in a mayor—somebody with a record who’s gotten things done."

“I’ve passed eight balanced on time budgets, saved the jobs of 4,100 school teachers when the mayor threatened to lay those school teachers off. I've kept every firehouse and every library open during the recession. Few other cities can say that,” she said. "At at time when so many other legislative bodies—look at Congress—over [the last] four years ground to a halt, we got things done."

Asked whether she had requested the endorsement of her longtime, close colleague—a man she helped defy city term limits to secure a third term—Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Quinn adopted a wide, albeit seemingly forced, smile.

“I have not!” she said. “We’ll see!”