NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — A slate of challengers is working to unseat longtime New York police union leader Patrick Lynch — including two officers under indictment in a ticket-fixing scandal — in an election that comes amid a rancorous public battle with the mayor.

The group of hopefuls includes Brooklyn South trustee at the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, Brian Fusco, who said Tuesday union leaders have been “grandstanding” instead of improving officers’ “disgraceful and dangerous” work environment.

“Police officers are bearing the burden of a deep failure of leadership on all sides,” Fusco said.

Lynch is seeking a fifth term as head of the union, which represents 24,000 officers. He had no immediate comment.

“He pounds his fists, he gets red in the face. When Pat steps away from the microphone, he steps away from the podium, that’s where it ends,” Fusco told WCBS 880’s Alex Silverman.

In a statement, Lynch slammed Fusco as someone who has brought nothing productive or innovative to the table during his time on the PBA board.

Lynch is usually outspoken, but the rhetoric has been ramped up since the December 3 grand jury decision not to indict a police officer in the death of Eric Garner. Lynch said Mayor Bill de Blasio threw officers “under the bus” by supporting anti-police protesters, and later said the mayor had “blood on his hands” after two officers were shot to death in their squad cars by a gunman who said he was seeking revenge for the deaths of Garner and Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

Fusco said the decision to run is not about the fight with the mayor. “We’ve been planning this for a long time,” he said.

The announcement came after an argument broke out at a recent union event in Queens. The union is also embroiled in a bitter contract dispute that has been ongoing for years.

As 1010 WINS’ Sonia Rincon reported, the top issue Fusco says they want to tackle is salaries.

“We need to get a contract, we should have been in PERB (Public Employment Relations Board) a couple years ago. There’s a lot of speculation. Why would you wait a decade?” Fusco said.

Lynch was criticized before his last re-election for his handling of the ticket-fixing scandal, which ensnared more than a dozen officers, but no challenger materialized then.

According to a Quinnipiac University poll released last week, only 18 percent of New Yorkers had a favorable opinion of Lynch. He responded with a statement saying: “I fight for and speak for the police officers of the City of New York and they are the only ones whose opinions I care about. I don’t do my job to make myself popular.”

Also seeking to replace Lynch and other union leadership are Officers Joseph Anthony and Michael Hernandez, who both pleaded not guilty to tampering with public records in the ticket-fixing probe, first announced in 2011. An Internal Affairs lieutenant was the first to be tried, and she was convicted and sentenced to community service for divulging an eavesdropping warrant.

The investigation sparked a debate over the informal practice of police squashing tickets or minor summonses as favors.

(TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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