A Republican Mayoral Forum held on Thursday, March 9th, at Columbia University’s Low Library Rotunda gave respected candidates a chance to highlight their positions on issues, including policing and the controversy over Stop-and-Frisk. The candidates present at the forum included the following: former NY Jets player turned, Minister Rev. Michel Faulkner, businessman Paul Massey, City Councilman Eric Ulrich, as well as Darren Dion Aquino an actor and disabled rights activist.
Since Mayor De Blasio took office, tensions have increased between City Hall and the New York City Police Department. A survey done by the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association concluded that out of the 6,000 cops surveyed, 96 percent hold unfavorable opinions about the mayor.
The event gave Republican candidates a chance to weigh in on the issues that police face when interacting with the communities they serve.
All of the candidates say they support the NYPD, but also say that they understand the vexations the police have incurred over the years.
“I will support and affirm the role of the NYPD. We do not have a crime problem; we have a police-community relations problem,” said Faulkner.
The responses given by the candidates revolve around the issues between police and communities in New York City. Massey echoed Faulkner’s sentiments, stating, “We need to get behind police. Police is not a race; police are out there every day. Good, hardworking people.”
Ulrich says his support for the NYPD has been long-standing. “My position is very public. I supported Stop-and-Frisk in the City Council. We should not tie the hands of police officers trying to do their job. They should have the discretion and ability to use it when needed,” said Ulrich.
Ulrich is also aware of the negative responses to Stop-and-Frisk, stating, “The approach to Stop-and-Frisk was excessive at the least. When you look at the amount of stops the police were doing, compare that to the relative few arrests that were made as a result of Stop-and-Frisk, I think it needed to be reformed, but not ended.”
Aquino countered Ulrich, saying, “Stop-and-Frisk does not work. It did not work. We need to strengthen and empower our police.”
Faulkner’s stance on Stop-and-Frisk is community-oriented. He says he believes that the people play a crucial role in stopping crime in New York City, saying, “It is an effective tool if the community is involved. If the community is not involved, it will not work. When we work together things happen.”
Mayor de Blasio has had a rocky first term. New Yorkers are unhappy with his performance as Mayor. A Democratic Mayoral Forum seems unlikely, unless the City’s Democratic establishment decides to primary de Blasio with a Democrat challenger.
Audience member, Ty Turner, 36, is eager to get Mayor De Blasio out of office, saying, “I don’t feel like we have a mayor.”
Turner said he liked the diversity among the candidates. “Great diverse group of candidates: a businessman, black pastor, native New Yorker, and a millennial. It says a lot about the Republican Party, it really does,” Turner said.
The candidate that caught Turner’s eye to beat Mayor De Blasio was Councilman Eric Ulrich. “He is a young millennial that has democratic appeal. I agree with his stance on policing. He stood strong on his vote [in support of Stop-and-Frisk]. He did not shy away from it. Integrity means everything,” Turner said.
Faulkner’s message resonated with Paulo Silva, a Senior at John Jay College. “I appreciated Mr. Faulkner’s ideas regarding NYPD relations and homelessness,” he said.
Silva continued, “Not only does he support the idea of working with the community, but he also supports parts of Stop-and-Frisk that gave officers some discretion over the job they were trained to do.”
The applause that the candidates received echoed throughout the halls of Columbia University; signs of hope among students, including John Jay’s very own.
“All the candidates tonight spoke well on issues I care deeply about. I hope to see one of them in City Hall very soon,” said Silva.