CITY HALL — Republican mayoral candidate Joe Lhota slammed City Council Speaker Christine Quinn's plan to create an NYPD inspector general Monday, threatening the monitor would "handcuff" police and compromise public safety.
Speaking to reporters on the steps of City Hall, Lhota, who has been touting his law-and-order credentials, called on Quinn, the Democratic frontrunner, to drop her support for the bill, which comes amid growing concerns over police policies like stop-and-frisk.
"The actions of the speaker are reckless and they're dangerous," said the former MTA chairman, closely echoing concerns raised by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly in recent weeks.
Lhota argued the NYPD already has sufficient oversight and noted that, while overall crime has fallen dramatically in recent decades, some crimes, such as rape, have ticked up over the past couple of years.
"We can't allow reckless behavior, like putting a handcuff on the police department, which is what the inspector general will do," he said.
He also argued that it should be the mayor's job to oversee police policy. But he was careful not to criticize the current mayor.
"I don't see any deficiency at all, whatsoever," he said when asked about Bloomberg's record of oversight.
But Quinn, who recently announced her support for the inspector general bill following months of pressure, quickly shot back at Lhota, marking one of the first major wars of words between the Democratic and Republican frontrunners.
"Joe Lhota simply does not know what he is talking about — he is either ignorant about the details or willfully ignoring the facts," Quinn's spokesman, Jamie McShane, said in a statement.
He noted that when a similar law was passed in Los Angeles, crime there dropped 33 percent.
"The bill that the speaker supports will do nothing — not one thing — to limit the police department's ability to do their job," he said.
"Chris knows that we can keep our streets safe and improve police-community relations. It's sad that Joe Lhota does not agree."