Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s name was not on the program for the annual PBA convention. But both he and NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton were the featured guests.
Why the omission? One reason was that union officials feared if word got out about Cuomo, Mayor Bill de Blasio might order Bratton and top NYPD members not to attend Thursday’s event. The mayor and the governor are again dueling — this time over the handling of Legionnaires’ disease outbreak and the governor’s move not to invite the mayor with other city officials on a trip to Puerto Rico.
Unlike Mayor Rudy Giuliani, de Blasio is ceding as much authority to Bratton on police matters. De Blasio may have felt out of place at the convention in light of Cuomo and Bratton’s pro-police rhetoric, which cops feel have been wanting from the mayor.
As PBA president Pat Lynch put it before introducing Cuomo: “We need elected officials who will stand up and support us.”
Cuomo, who got the PBA’s Man of the Year Award, and Bratton, the PBA’s Person of the Year, did just that. Cuomo called being an NYPD cop “the toughest job in the toughest city.”
“You saved the city,” he told the cops. He also praised what he called “the discipline” of NYPD cops during “aggressive protests.” Some protests, which the mayor appeared to back, followed the police “chokehold” death of Eric Garner in Staten Island a year ago. When a deranged black man later assassinated two police officers, many in the NYPD blamed the mayor.
Bratton spoke of “the hostile law enforcement rhetoric directed against us. . . . Your story needs to be told and retold.”
Where does this leave de Blasio? It doesn’t appear he can make up to the rank and file: his embrace of the Rev. Al Sharpton after Garner’s death; his support of Chirlane McCray aide Rachel Noerdlinger despite the anti-cop emails posted by her son and her boyfriend; his warning to his biracial son to behave around cops.
Although he has endorsed broken windows in contrast to many of his political allies and given Bratton everything he’s asked for — including more cops — the mayor has not bonded rhetorically with the police as Cuomo and Bratton have.
At the PBA event, Cuomo and Bratton appeared to speak from the heart. As far as cops are concerned, the mayor’s heart is elsewhere.