Is there a new Bill de Blasio? Here are some of the things he has done recently to back the NYPD:
The mayor called for change within the city's Law Department after it paid $5,000 to settle a suit by Ruhim Ullah of Brooklyn, whom police shot in the leg in 2010 and who then sued the NYPD for $3 million. De Blasio acted after Commissioner Bill Bratton said he was "outraged" by the decision because Ullah had pleaded guilty to threatening cops with a machete. "It's outrageous that the city Law Department is continuing to not support the men and women of this department . . . ," Bratton said.
The mayor criticized a legal aid group -- Bronx Defenders, which gets $20 million in city funding -- after two of its lawyers were in a rap video calling for the execution of cops. It opens with two rappers holding guns to the head of a white actor playing an NYPD cop, as the song's opening line declares, "For Mike Brown and Sean Bell, a cop got to get killed . . . It's time to start killing these coppers."
The mayor said he would veto a City Council bill that would criminalize the use of chokeholds by police. His promise to veto came after an NYPD inspector general report confirmed officers involved in 10 chokehold cases received only minor discipline. The apparent chokehold death of Eric Garner in Staten Island set off citywide protests.
The mayor seems to be patching things up with police unions. In response to a letter from Lieutenants Benevolent Association president Lou Turco, de Blasio urged people not to resist arrest. "If a police officer says you're under arrest, you must -- you must -- submit to that," he said. He also met with Sergeants Benevolent Association president Ed Mullins, who has been among de Blasio's harshest critics. Mullins, who called de Blasio a "nincompoop," said he now considers the mayor "a gentleman."
Has de Blasio wised up to the importance of having the NYPD's back? Or is he playing politics, building on the public relations victory he believes he won over the unions that criticized him and the cops who turned their backs on him at the funerals of Dets. Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu, assassinated on Dec. 20?
"This never would have happened before Dec. 20," said a civil rights attorney who's monitored the NYPD for 20 years. He spoke anonymously to speak candidly about the relationship between the mayor and police.