Council members will force a vote on hotly debated police reform bills if Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito refuses to allow a vote this year, they said Tuesday.
"I am going to guarantee that 2017 will be the year where we pass the Right to Know Act. It's going to happen — one way or another," said Councilman Antonio Reynoso (D-Brooklyn), one of the chief sponsors.
Backers plan to employ a rarely-used procedural move known as a motion to discharge to force the two bills to the floor unless Mark-Viverito relents in the coming months, they said.
The two controversial bills known as the Right to Know Act would require cops to inform people that they have the right to refuse to be searched without probable cause, and to identify themselves with business cards when they stop somebody.
Mark-Viverito has refused to bring them up for a vote, instead striking a deal with then-Police Commissioner Bill Bratton to make some of the changes through internal NYPD policy. Mayor de Blasio also opposes the bills.
"We intend on passing it. The question of how will depend on the powers that be. We can either do it in partnership with the powers that be, or we can discharge," said Councilman Ritchie Torres (D-Bronx), the other lead sponsor. "But I assure you that it will pass. We have been waiting three years for the NYPD and the political establishment to engage in good faith. And I'm tired of waiting."
The bills are supported by a majority of Council members, and recently gained one more sponsor with the addition of newly-elected Councilman Bill Perkins of Harlem. The identification bill now has 37 sponsors, enough to override a veto, while the consent to search bill has 32.
Under Council rules, a bill's sponsor can file a motion signed by other members to force a bill out of its committee. The full Council must then vote on whether to bring the legislation to the floor.
The tactic has never been used under de Blasio and Mark-Viverito's tenure. It was used under former Mayor Michael Bloomberg to force a vote on two bills to rein in the NYPD's use of stop and frisk.
Torres said he will "happily" use the motion of Mark-Viverito won't reverse course.
"For me this is about legitimacy. It's about consent of the governed. We have a right to know who's stopping us and why we're being stopped, and our constitutional right to decline a search without probable cause," he said.
Mark-Viverito said only that the bills were going through the "normal legislative process" and she continues to "engage in conversations" with its supporters.