After a two-hour closed-door meeting with NYPD Commissioner William Bratton last night, the leaders of the five police unions seemed no closer to making peace with Mayor Bill de Blasio and pointedly blamed him for continued problems facing rank-and-file cops.
Patrick Lynch, head of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, gave a brief statement indicating he and other union officials remained at odds with de Blasio and concerned about the safety of cops on the street after the killing of two officers in Brooklyn last month and the shooting of two more in the Bronx Monday night.
"The problem was not created here at [police] headquarters, it started on City Hall," Lynch said, echoing the sentiments of the other union officials that their issues are not with Bratton. "We don't believe there is a willingness on the part of City Hall to solve these problems."
Lynch also said he wanted to reassure the public there was no union sanctioned work slowdown by cops and noted that felony arrests in recent days had increased. The latest police data showed that for the week ending Jan. 4 there were 2,401 arrests of all kinds, up from 1,820 in the prior week but still well below the 5,448 reported a year ago. Summonses have plummeted by over 90 percent compared to last year.
Public and police safety, as well as the appearance of a work slow down, were the first worries Bratton brought up to union leaders, said a labor official familiar with the meeting.
"We wish there was a leader at City Hall," Lynch said.
Michael Palladino, head of the Detective Endowment Association said in a statement that issues facing cops and City Hall were complex but officers "will never forsake the people of the city."
Told of Lynch's remarks, de Blasio spokesman Phil Walzak said "The mayor is committed to keeping crime at historically low levels, supporting the brave men and women of the NYPD who protect us every day, and bringing the police and community closer together."
Lynch, surrounded by the leaders of four other major police unions, wouldn't take questions and didn't specify the "problems" he was referring to in his remarks. Wednesday's meeting with Bratton came against a backdrop of increasingly strained relationships between cops and City Hall, relations which were never collegial to begin with since de Blasio took office on a platform of reform at the NYPD.
After officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos were killed on Dec. 20, Lynch blasted de Blasio's posture during earlier anti-police protests. Lynch said the mayor had blood on his hands. Lynch and thousands of cops also turned their backs on de Blasio's televised image when he gave eulogies at the officers' funerals. That action brought criticism from the mayor as "irresponsible" and Bratton as "selfish."
De Blasio recently appears to have made gestures of peace, going as far last week as sitting down with Lynch and other union officials. Monday he touted the NYPD for leading the city to record lows in serious crimes last year.
Still, some politicians continue to criticize de Blasio, saying he has to do more to repair his relations with cops.
"I think that Mayor de Blasio has to be more sensitive in terms of the words or statements he makes concerning the police," said State Senate majority leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre). "I went to those two funerals. Those policemen were assassinated . . . as public officials, we have to show strong support of our police officers."
With Maria Alvarez, Matthew Chayes and Yancey Roy