NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Mayor Bill de Blasio and police Commissioner Bill Bratton have upped the ante in a feud with Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch, over what Lynch said is a declining quality of life.
As CBS2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer reported, it remains clear that there is no love lost between de Blasio and Lynch, especially since the PBA is auditioning candidates to run against him.
But Lynch’s charges that quality of life is deteriorating have touched a raw nerve with both de Blasio and Bratton.
Friday was graduation day for more than 1,200 new police officers. At the end of the ceremony, de Blasio read a long list of thank-yous, which included one for Lynch.
Minutes later, de Blasio bristled when CBS2’s Kramer asked him about what Lynch told CBS2’s Kramer Tuesday about the effect of the mayor’s policing – especially the move to decriminalize acts such as public urination.
“Not only are they trying to handcuff us, they’re trying to handcuff us to the fence so we’re not going to move at all,” Lynch told Kramer in the exclusive interview.
Lynch attacked de Blasio’s moves to eliminate stop, question and frisk, to decriminalize many quality of life offenses, and to take discretion away from cops on how to handle the situations they encounter.
“What they’re doing is decriminalizing these laws and making it more difficult for us to do our jobs. Then what happens?” Lynch said. “It emboldens the bad folks who then stand up and say, ‘I know my rights, you can’t do anything to me.'”
Lynch further said officers find the new rules confusing, and he said a survey of his members found that 97 percent of officers are afraid to take action because of lawsuits or complaints.
“What does that do? It puts police officer on the defensive,” Lynch said.
On Friday, Kramer showed officials a photo of a man urinating on the street next to a 7-Eleven store at 75th Street and First Avenue a day earlier. She noted Lynch’s remarks that many officers do not take action in such cases because they no longer know if their actions are the right or wrong move.
“We are in a process that I am leading to try and reduce the need for arrests that ties up officers,” Bratton said. “I’ve been doing this a long time – long time; 45 years. I think I know what I’m doing. To try and deescalate, we can not arrest where it’s not necessary. I’m sorry Pat, I think I know a little more about this at this juncture.”
Bratton said it is understandable that officers are confused, because the new rules do not take effect for a year and the officers still have to be trained.
“In terms of urination, the picture you just showed – if, in fact, that issue were to start increasing, we would have the ability to start arresting once again,” Bratton said.
De Blasio was dismissive of Lynch’s remarks.
“I’m never surprised when certain critics have to look for something they perceive as being negative – even against the backdrop of the NYPD is doing better and better,” de Blasio said.
Lynch issued a blistering response back, saying Bratton should listen to his officers who see a “troubling” decline in quality of life.
Lynch said the NYPD has a huge morale crisis, “all because of the mayor’s anti-police policies for which Commissioner Bratton provides cover on a daily basis.”