Tags: police | New York | de Blasio | betray

NYC Police Say De Blasio's Words, Not Policies, Betray Them

Tuesday, 30 Dec 2014 09:04 PM

Police agree with New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s law-enforcement policies even as they resent what they say is his negative view of the 35,000-officer department, said a spokesman for the biggest of five unions meeting with him today.

De Blasio wrongly viewed the July 17 death of Eric Garner and a grand jury’s subsequent exoneration of the officer who used a chokehold on him as examples of systemic racism, said Al O’Leary, spokesman for Patrick Lynch, president of the 25,000- member Patrolman’s Benevolent Association.

“Instead of saying that, while you may be unhappy with the grand jury, you have to respect the decision, he went with 200 years of racism and advising his son, Dante, not to trust us,” Leary said. “If you’re not out there wearing a bulletproof vest, you cannot appreciate the betrayal they feel by those words.”

Although rank-and-file officers have displayed anger toward New York leaders in the past, few mayors have won election on such a sweeping agenda of changing the department’s policies and practices as de Blasio. Elected a year ago, the self-described progressive Democrat campaigned on a platform of restricting stop-and-frisk street encounters and promising to improve what he said was a poor relationship with minority communities.

The unions agree with the mayor and Police Commissioner Bill Bratton on practices and policies, O’Leary said. Unions lobbied against quotas requiring too much use of stop-and-frisk tactics long before de Blasio even announced his candidacy for mayor two years ago, he said.

“We support the commissioner’s policies,” O’Leary said. “This is about the mayor not supporting police officers. We don’t need the mayor’s support when things are going well; we need it when there’s a problem. And the Eric Garner incident was a problem.”

The unions met with the mayor at the new Police Academy in a remote section of Queens.

“Today’s meeting focused on building a productive dialogue and identifying ways to move forward together,” Phil Walzak, a spokesman for de Blasio, said in a statement. “The Mayor and Police Commissioner remain committed to keeping crime in New York City at historically low levels, supporting the brave men and women in uniform who protect us every day, and finding ways to bring police and the community closer together.”

Lynch, the union leader, said no issues were resolved.

“There were conversations on a number of issues but no resolution on any,” he said in a statement. “Actions speak louder than words and we’ll see what happens.”

The mayor, 53, has also embraced the Reverend Al Sharpton, who has a reputation as a harsh critic of police, as one of his closest advisers. Sharpton appeared at the mayor’s side, along with Bratton, at a City Hall news conference in July, after Garner died during an arrest in Staten Island.

The fraught relationship between de Blasio and the police comes at the end of his first year in office, which was marked by the creation of all-day pre-kindergarten and contract agreements with teachers and civil-service workers that had gone unresolved for years. Labor negotiations with police remain to be decided by arbitration.

The mayor has tried to shower praise on the department and in three news conferences this month in which he credited the department with achieving a record low crime rate. As of Dec. 21, the city had recorded 315 homicides, 4 percent fewer than last year, when the city experienced a record low 335.

De Blasio also has vowed to reduce incidents of police abuse, which cost the city $212 million in legal settlements last year.

Addressing 884 Police Academy recruits at Madison Square Garden yesterday, the mayor told them they were joining the best police department in the world.

The praise didn’t stop some in the crowd from heckling de Blasio. When he told them they would confront social problems they didn’t create, someone in the crowd of about 10,000 shouted, “You did,” drawing laughter and applause.

About 10 in the audience, though no recruits, turned their backs on the mayor as he spoke. It was similar to a gesture by hundreds of officers who stood outside a church as de Blasio appeared on a video screen during the Dec. 27 funeral of Rafael Ramos, one of two officers killed Dec. 20 in their patrol car by a man who claimed on social media to be retaliating for police killings of unarmed black men.

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Police agree with New York Mayor Bill de Blasio's law-enforcement policies even as they resent what they say is his negative view of the 35,000-officer department, said a spokesman for the biggest of five unions meeting with him today.De Blasio wrongly viewed the July 17...
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2014-04-30
Tuesday, 30 Dec 2014 09:04 PM
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