Councilman Adam McFadden has long complained about the police department’s “bell-on-bike” strategy. He collected statistics on youth written tickets for having no bell on their bicycle and was discouraged to hear about Cool Down’s focus.
“It bothers me because it amounts to nothing,” said McFadden. “When you stop and pull over people who are law abiding citizens who just don’t have a bell on a bicycle, why would they work with you the next time you ask them to work with you when you’ve violated their rights?”
In a statement, the New York Civil Liberties union also questioned Cool Down, writing, “Police should focus on building trusting relationships, not writing tickets or using minor offenses as a pretext to stop and search people.”
When asked about potentially violating citizens’ rights, Mayor Tom Richards said, “The ultimate violation of your civil rights is to be shot to death.”
Sheppard said his officers wouldn’t be punitive and would respect the law. Richards and Sheppard said police cannot solve the crime problem alone.
“When dealing with issues like this, we will decide as a community if we put up with it or not,” said Richards.
“What happens in the city, people choose not to be involved. People choose not to be witnesses,” said Sheppard. “People choose not to snitch and we end up with what we end up with.”