NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Open warfare has erupted between Mayor Bill de Blasio and a top police union, whose leader has called on Democrats to nix the mayor’s‘s bid to bring the 2016 Democratic National Convention to Brooklyn.
Ed Mullins, president of the Sergeants Benevolent Association, said he does not support the mayor’s call to bring the convention to the Barclays Center. The reason, he said, is that the mayor’s policies are moving the city back to “the bad old days of high crime.”
“While the Barclays Center is still new and glistening, the great city in which it stands is lurching backwards to the bad old days of high crime, danger-infested public spaces, and families that walk our streets worried for their safety,” Mullins wrote in an open letter running in Tuesday’s editions of the New York Post and The New York Times.
Mullins said de Blasio’s administration has made “dangerous choices” and as a result, the “degradation of our streets is on the rise.”
As CBS 2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer reported, Mullins accused de Blasio of not supporting police.
“The morale of the NYPD is terrible. Cops are being second-guessed across the board,” Mullins said. “Right now, we don’t have a mayor who supports the police. Each and every officer out there today in the city patrolling is second-guessing their own actions. So my question is, is it fair to put the additional burdens on them?”
Mullins said the mayor’s open support for what he called the anti-police policies of the Rev. Al Sharpton, and a lack of support for officers, translates directly into crime spikes and a drop in quality of life.
“The mayor has provided a public platform to the loudest of the city’s anti-safety agitators,” the ad charges. “Why would he kowtow to demagogues who push a political agenda? Does he really believe people in the city care more about politics than quality of life?”
Mullins also suggested that police officers’ hands would be tied in dealing with protesters that would inevitably come to the city for a political convention.
“We have a police department that’s got low morale, that’s constantly being scrutinized, second-guessed,” Mullins told WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb on Tuesday. “And every convention that occurs is always followed with protesters, to which the police will have to respond, and we will be the subject of lawsuits, discipline, videotapes. And how do we put our members of the NYPD through this?”
He further criticized the mayor for giving voice to “anti-safety agitators,” instead of the millions who want to work and live in safety.
“The DNC should choose another venue,” Mullins wrote. “It is no time for ambitious local politicians and political ‘wannabes’ who ignore public safety to bask in the spotlight of a national event made possible by the sweat and hard work of law enforcement, only to throw the city’s police officers under the bus.”
Mayor de Blasio dismissed the comments.
“It’s fear-mongering to try and benefit their own position in labor talks,” de Blasio said.
The mayor said all of the union’s rhetoric amounted to a ploy, 1010 WINS’ Al Jones reported.
“If any union wants to strengthen their economic position, do it based on the facts,” de Blasio said. “Don’t try and stoke fear in the city we love.”
The mayor rejected the sergeants’ union’s contention that the recent 13 percent spike in shootings is connected to his police policies.
“We are the safest big city in America,” de Blasio told reporters. “It’s a well-established fact. We’re the safest big city in America because we have the finest police force in America. I’ve said it many times. We have the finest police leader in America in Bill Bratton. I’ve said that many times.”
The mayor’s aides offered a blizzard of statistics – noting that crime is down 3.6 percent this year, and the murder rate has dropped 12.3 percent citywide.
“The numbers speak for themselves,” de Blasio said. “Twenty-seven fewer murders than this point last year – that’s extraordinary. NYPD should be very, very proud of that fact.”
The mayor said he does not plan to contact DNC officials because he doesn’t anticipate they will give the remarks much weight.
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams blasted Mullins’ letter as “an inaccurate and frankly inane spewing of political vitriol, all the at the expense of everyday New Yorkers.”
“He makes unfair accusations against Mayor de Blasio, Commissioner Bratton and the broad-based coalition of thousands who are all working together to strengthen police-community relations,” Adams continued, before touting hosting the DNC as “an important pursuit for Brooklyn and the rest of our city.”
“If terrorists could not keep us from hosting big events, then nothing should, especially not a select few who object to the change of direction from the winds of positive and progressive change that have blown through this city,” Adams said.
De Blasio faced criticism earlier this month after inviting the Rev. Sharpton to City Hall for a meeting that included NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton in the wake of the police custody death of Eric Garner. Political consultant Hank Sheinkopf told CBS 2’s Kramer that meeting made “the mayor look weak, it makes Al Sharpton look strong, and it makes Bill Bratton look out of place.”
“I think Rev. Sharpton has been active and productive on those issues for decades,” de Blasio said Aug. 1. “He’s someone who is a personal friend, and someone I respect the advice of.”
The question for many now is whether the police union opposition is politically damaging to a mayor who has been on the job for just eight months. Pundits said it may hinge on shooting statistics.
“The real concern would be if the trend were to increase for 13 to 18 to 25, and we’ve got many months – if not years – to see where that trend goes,” said David Birdsell of Baruch College.
Earlier this month, members of the Democratic National Committee’s Technical Advisory Group took a two-day tour of New York City as the party decides where to hold the convention.
“Whatever it takes to make this work smoothly for everyone coming to visit and for our fellow New Yorkers, we’re going to do it,” the mayor said Aug. 12.
Four other cities are also in the running.
A decision is expected early next year.
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