Experts at panel discussion examine whether NYPD should have inspector general

NEW YORK — The city police department should have an inspector general to examine its conduct, but the monitor would need independence and a broad mandate to be effective, a panel of criminal justice and legal experts said Wednesday.

The City Council is weighing a proposal to put the nation’s largest police force under the scrutiny of an inspector general. Mayor Michael Bloomberg says there’s no need for one, but the idea has gained currency among civil liberties advocates and others troubled by some New York Police Department practices, including widespread spying on Muslims.

Proponents say an inspector general could build public confidence by looking at issues such as the surveillance and the department’s extensive use of a tactic known as stop and frisk — questioning and sometimes patting down people whose behavior is deemed suspicious but doesn’t necessarily meet the legal bar for an arrest.

The NYPD has said its surveillance is legal.

Inspectors general — officials with investigative powers — are a common feature of government agencies, including in law enforcement and intelligence. The FBI and the CIA have such inspectors, as do police forces including the Los Angeles Police Department.

In New York City, allegations of police misconduct are explored by a civilian complaint board, a police corruption commission and the department’s 700-person Internal Affairs Bureau — plus, at times, local and federal prosecutors and judges.

That’s enough, the administration says.