Mayor Bill de Blasio sought Wednesday to downplay his use of an NYPD helicopter to avoid rush-hour traffic between Brooklyn and Queens last Friday, saying his predecessors had used the travel method much more frequently.
“I really don’t understand what this is all about,” he said about the scrutiny at an unrelated City Hall news conference.
The Democratic mayor would not say what he had been doing near Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, where photos showed the helicopter was parked. De Blasio often visits the Park Slope neighborhood where he lived before moving into Gracie Mansion.
Mayoral spokesman Eric Phillips had tweeted that his boss in was Brooklyn for meetings and took the helicopter to an event in Long Island City, Queens.
De Blasio said his use of a city helicopter adhered to city Conflict of Interest Board and NYPD intelligence rules.
“There’s a governing policy. We have followed that policy to a letter,” he said.
He added that he doesn’t often get airlifted around or to and from the city.
“We’re talking about a handful of times a year,” he said.
Phillips told The New York Times that instances in which de Blasio used a helicopter include a trip to Rikers Island, to a hospital to visit injured firefighters and to Hofstra University for last month’s presidential debate. He said the mayor’s police detail made the travel decisions.