"Rather than saying we have to respect this Grand Jury's decision..."
"Then what he (Mayor Deblasio) laid on the shoulders of every NYC police officer is what he feels is decades of Racism, well that's Unfair."
-Pat Lynch/PBA President December 9th 2014
I didn't fully get it.
I didn't fully comprehend.
That is, until P.B.A President Pat Lynch broke it down for me on why New York City Police Officers feel the City's Mayor for only a year, Bill Deblasio, in Lynch's words has quote "thrown them under the bus."
Just Days ago, (before the tragic and cowardly fatal shootings of NYPD hero officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu) I sat down for an on-camera TV interview of Lynch, the long time charismatic President of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association at the union's downtown NYC headquarters. To say that Lynch has been an effective and vocal advocate for New York City Police Officers would be an understatement. Lynch strongly defends his members, and he should. That is, after all his job.
Here is the backdrop.
For almost 30 years, I have listened to rhetoric from union leaders, sometimes extremely heated, but also rhetoric from Mayors for that matter.
Normally it's around the issue of no contract, (as is the case for NY Police Officers) or tough contract negotiations. However in 30 years, I have never seen an acrimonious relationship this bad.
Mayor Deblasio, trying to not have a repeat of the violence in Ferguson, this time in his own city after the Staten Island Grand Jury came back with no indictment in the Eric Garner Case, with the video being played over and over, said publicly that he has trained his biracial son, Dante, to take special care in any police encounter. (Dante, a high school student, sports a huge Afro style haircut of years past.)
To understand the problem, one must first look at the history.
During the campaign, Deblasio went from a distant 3rd place to winning the Democratic primary, with a message of bringing major reform to the NYPD. (Notably ending the practice of Stop and Frisk.) Then-police commissioner Ray Kelly had a 66 percent approval rating, but that quickly dissipated. The dynamics of the race for mayor changed in Deblasio's favor, after one of his campaign TV ads starred his son Dante.
I didn't fully understand how someone could be offended at what Mayor Deblasio told his bi-racial son. After all, I still remember when I was lectured over and over as a child in this city on the same topic.
But then I sat down with Lynch and in a second interview, with Police Union official Ed Mullins of the S.B.A. (The Mullins interview can be seen here.)
Yes, a different perspective can be very refreshing, and in this highly volatile climate, perhaps it's best to let the President of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association make the case in his own words.
Again, it bears repeating what Pat Lynch told me when responding to why he feels the Mayor threw Police Officers under the bus and it centers on the mayor going public with his advice to his son on police encounters.
P.B.A President Pat Lynch:
Rather than saying we have to respect this grand jury's decision. Then what he laid on the shoulders of every NYC Police Officer is what he feels is decades of racism, well that's unfair.
I want all of us to please stop and think about that. As a police officer, you already have an impossible job, one that could cost you your life, and then your painted with what could perhaps be the worst possible broad brush, and by your CEO, the Mayor in this case. (Whether it was directly stated or implied.)
Imagine if we were a doctor and it was implied all doctors were racist.
Or better yet, for journalists, if it were implied all journalists are racist.
How would we feel?
Representing NYPD Police Sergeants, The President of their union, Ed Mullins went further in my interview with him this month, on criticizing the Mayor's Deblasio's comment about his son Dante. "Divisive, Sad Statement, Embarrassing statement for the Mayor of NY," Mullins said, and then went further.
This isn't about color. This is about an American way of life, and working together so we can all go home to our families. When the Mayor talks about his son. His son is not a kid from East New York, or East Flatbush where there is double digit homicides in the course of the year and it's been continuous. He grew up in park slope. He grew up in a predominately affluent neighborhood. He goes to private school. He is not the same as other kids that we're out there talking about. I've seen two kids killed 30 feet apart on Church Ave in Brooklyn, and no one call up.
and more from Pat Lynch:
I have 31 years on the job, and not once did I ever hear in the radio car, when the 911 call comes, hey what color are they? who do they love? where do they live? Its never happened. We respond, and we do our jobs effectively. What about the lives, we have saved. We should be teaching our sons and daughters to support NYC police officers. We are the ones that keep our city safe. We literally stand between criminals and the good citizens.
And Police Officers do stand in the way between good and bad. They keep all of us safe, and frankly are our last line of defense.
The P.B.A president was animated at this point:
Let us not forget, a few short years ago, you couldn't walk down these streets in safety, you couldn't park your car.
Lynch paused in the interview for a second, and then continued:
Since 1999, 80 police officers have lost their lives in the line of duty. Does that count for something? I believe it does.
Sadly, just days after telling me that, Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu were assassinated.
The Ultimate Sacrifice.