Cops' Safety And Morale Discussed In Face Of Dramatic Fall-Off In Arrests, Summonses


NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Police Commissioner Bill Bratton met with the heads of the police unions Wednesday to address deteriorating relations between rank-and-file officers and Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Bratton said the private meeting, which did not include de Blasio, was “a continuation of what we would routinely do,” but added they would also discuss the unions’ concerns about officer safety and morale.

He said concerns about police activity levels would also be “part of the subject of discussion.”

Emerging from the meeting, PBA President Pat Lynch said they had a frank meeting to discuss working conditions and officer safety. But he called City Hall leaderless and unwilling to address the officers’ concerns.

“The problem was not created here at headquarters. It started at City Hall,” Lynch said.

Lynch dismissed any notion of a work slowdown.

“We want the public to also understand that arrests of felonies are up. Our members are doing their job,” he said.

WCBS 880’s Alex Silverman asked Detectives’ Union Head Mike Palladino what he wants from the mayor.

“Some type of statement that maybe he miscalculated, or misunderstood what policing is all about. That’d be a good start,” Palladino said.

NYPD statistics show there has been a dramatic drop in summonses and arrests across the city over the two weeks since officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos were shot dead in their patrol car in Brooklyn.

Last week, the number of summonses for minor criminal offenses and traffic and parking violations decreased by more than 90 percent compared with the same week a year earlier, statistics show. For example, summonses for urinating in public were down to 347 from more than 4,077 last year.

As 1010 WINS’ Al Jones reported, there were plenty of double-parked trucks and vehicles in no parking zones on 37th Street on Wednesday, but even more telling was the lack of orange envelopes on the windows.

“In spots where we usually park and get tickets we’re not receiving tickets in those spots anymore,” one driver said.

The driver told Jones he normally collects more than a few a month.

“I’d say about 15 a month, and now we’re down to zero,” he said.

At $115 per ticket, that’s a nice benefit of the ticket slowdown, Jones reported.

Arrests city-wide last week for more serious offenses were down 55 percent. In Midtown alone, they fell to 112 from 348.

Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch insisted Tuesday that the union was not sanctioning a labor action.

Following the meeting, Lynch said there was no work slowdown or labor action being sanctioned.

“We want the public to understand that arrests of felonies are up. Our members are doing their job,” he said. “The other solutions will come from the leaders here. We wish there were a leader at City Hall.”

Lynch earlier said officers are putting themselves in danger, as usual, to keep the city safe.

“Following the senseless assassination of two fine police officers, precautions had to be taken to protect police officers so that they could protect the city’s communities,” Lynch said in a statement. “Our members are out there doing their jobs and putting themselves in danger to keep this city safe just as they always do. That’s a clear demonstration of police officer’s dedication to duty and that there is no union initiated or supported slowdown.”

The figures first plummeted in the week after Liu and Ramos were killed on Dec. 20 in a brazen daytime attack.

The gunman, who had ranted on social media that he wanted to avenge the police killings of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner on Staten Island, then killed himself.

The officers’ deaths exacerbated tensions between de Blasio and police officers already upset by the mayor’s remark following the Garner grand jury decision sympathizing with protesters who claim a pattern of excessive force in minority communities.

The potential for a slowdown was evident the day after the killings, when word began circulating among officers that they should wait to respond to every radio call with two cars and not make arrests “unless absolutely necessary.”

A recent online posting on a site popular with police officers referred to the stance as “Operation Stand-down, Protect Yourself, Do Nothing.”

Sgt. Ed Mullins, head of the Sergeants Benevolent Association, argued that in the current climate it would only make sense that police officers would take extra precautions that could result in fewer arrests.

“There is no job action here. We are dealing with a broken morale, lack of leadership and a lot of extra work that has been placed on the NYPD through these demonstrations,” Mullins told CBS2’s Marcia Kramer.

Added Mike Palladino of the Detectives Endowment Association: “There is no work slowdown that’s sanctioned or encouraged by the unions. You have to take a look at the entire picture. You’ve had about 18 months of the police being beaten down during a mayoral campaign when the centerpiece was an anti-police platform.”

Bratton attributed the decline in arrests to a stressful month filled with widespread protests, police funerals and other discord that distracted legions of officers from normal duties. But he also warned that, if necessary, he would take measures to make sure the numbers return to normal.

“We will take a look at maybe who is not doing the work we expect of them,” he said. “And we will deal with it very appropriately if we have to.”

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