It’s not just that overall crime continues its nearly 3-decade decline under Mayor Bill de Blasio, despite the reduction of the notorious practice of stop-and-frisk. Now, the mayor seems to have tamed the beast that is the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association.
The mayor has agreed to give PBA members a 9.3 percent raise retroactive to 2012 that puts them ahead of the other NYC police unions. That deal also comes with a 2.25 percent “neighborhood policing differential.” This justification for the differential is nonsense. Why do cops get a bonus for doing their jobs?
Many cops may detest de Blasio, and the union will never endorse him, but the raise does neutralize that. No more protests — outside Gracie Mansion, his gym in Park Slope, or appearances — in an election year.
As for neighborhood policing, that is the baby of Commissioner James O’Neill, another mayoral success. Despite being white and of Irish descent in an administration that prides itself on diversity, O’Neill has proved to be a mayoral dream in his six months in charge.
Bill Bratton plucked O’Neill off the shelf where ex-Commissioner Ray Kelly had placed him for seven years after an overtime mess at a Brooklyn narcotics unit. O’Neill may not check off a diversity box, but he speaks in a cop’s voice — and so far has done the mayor’s bidding.
With the mayor cheerleading, O’Neill stripped a white sergeant of his weapon and placed him on desk duty after the cop fatally shot a mentally ill black woman who attacked him with a bat. And, O’Neill could fire Officer Richard Haste, a white officer who fatally shot an unarmed black teenager in his Bronx apartment bathroom. It’s widely believed that de Blasio wants Haste out.
Realizing his value, O’Neill’s handlers at Police Plaza treat him as gently as they would a Faberge egg.
Still, there remains an undercurrent of racial discord that doesn’t seem to go away. Last week, at a City Council Public Safety Committee meeting, Councilman Jumaane Williams complained, “In the department, there’s only one constituency that outpaces, statistically, everyone else, and that’s white males, and we have to figure that out.”
Williams might have added that the last three commissioners have been of Irish descent — whatever that’s worth. Maybe he can also figure that out.