The NYPD is being sucked into the war between Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo — a war in which the department does not belong. The two have been feuding since de Blasio became mayor in 2014. With Hillary Clinton’s defeat, both men are fighting over the direction of the Democratic Party.
Earlier this year, Cuomo said he would station 300 state troopers in NYC. What purpose they serve, other than to undercut de Blasio, is unclear because the NYPD has 36,000 cops and crime is low. Cuomo justified the move by saying they were there to fight terrorism, even though the NYPD has an experienced counter-terrorism unit.
After Donald Trump’s election and a subsequent increase in reported hate crimes nationally, Cuomo announced a state police-directed hate-crime unit, even though the NYPD has a longstanding bias unit.
De Blasio is no slacker when it comes to terrorism. In the past two weeks, he held three news conferences that dealt with terrorism-related security for the Thanksgiving Day parade.
Last week, with O’Neill and police brass beside him, the mayor held a news conference to try to embarrass Cuomo into signing legislation to outlaw cars with heavily tinted windows. Cuomo had vetoed similar legislation in 2012. De Blasio explained that in 2007 two cops were gunned down by someone in a car with tinted windows that obscured the cops’ vision.
O’Neill followed de Blasio’s lead. “This legislation is about keeping cops safe,” he said.
Cuomo’s press secretary, Dani Lever, said, “We intended to sign this legislation and would have been glad to tell the city if they’d just asked us — no need to grandstand.” There was silence from Lever on why Cuomo vetoed the legislation in 2012.
O’Neill has been commissioner for two months. At the Columbus Day parade, he marched with the cops and not the dignitaries. He lacks the political gravitas of predecessor Bill Bratton to push back against the mayor, especially in an election year.
“One of the challenges Commissioner O’Neill faces is to steer clear of politics, whether it is the feud between the mayor and the governor or anything else,” said Chris Dunn, associate legal director of the NYCLU. “Only bad things happen when the NYPD gets dragged into politics.”