Murray WeissOn the Inside         March 11, 2015 7:38am 




Pat Lynch Is Out of Touch With Union Members' Needs, Challengers Say

By Murray Weiss

NEW YORK CITY — Patrick Lynch, the president of the NYPD's largest union who recently had a high-profile clash with Mayor Bill de Blasio, is up for reelection this June and faces challengers from within his own ranks.

The 51-year-old head of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association believes his "outspoken" leadership style is an asset for his members. But one of his challengers says Lynch is out of touch with the 23,000 members of the rank-and-file, and that his clashes with City Hall have distracted him from core police issues.

Brian Fusco, an officer from Brooklyn South who's heading a slate of candidates for union leadership, says Lynch has taken his eyes off their bread-and-butter concerns while creating unnecessary friction with the administration.

“The job of the president of the union is to address the injustices and be able to sit with the Police Commissioner and get things changed,” Fusco said, adding that he thought Lynch's attacks on the mayor in the wake of the murder of two NYPD officers in Bed-Stuy were counterproductive.

“He knew he would get some media attention and amped it up,” Fusco said.

“I don’t know if he got caught up in the frenzy. Sometimes you say things with too much emotion and cross a bridge you can't get back over. You have to get along with the mayor.”

Fusco questioned why Lynch has not gotten a contract, or successfully challenged the NYPD’s onerous disciplinary system and police pension inequity issues involving new “Tier 3” officers disabled in the line of duty.

On Monday, “On The Inside” reported exclusively that Lynch says he “has no regrets” about taking on de Blasio — saying he was expressing his members' raw sentiment when he claimed that the mayor had "blood on his hands” following the deaths of officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu.

“One thing that I brought into this organization is being an outspoken leader, that we will defend you and represent you, even in controversies,” Lynch said.

“We pride ourselves on being out there all the time, fighting the fight every day, whether it is City Hall or not. I brought that into the organization.”

Lynch also insisted that his aggressiveness helped force de Blasio into beginning to support pro-police positions, such as buying new bulletproof vests, vetoing a City Council bill that would have made chokeholds illegal and deciding to fight frivolous lawsuits against the NYPD.

His union has chosen to go to the statewide Public Employment Relations Board to work out a contract for a third time, arguing that they can get a better contract that way than by negotiating with the city directly.

He also said he has been challenging the Tier 3 system and  fighting for legislation on the pension disability controversy.

NYPD Officer Ronald Wilson is also mounting a challenge to Lynch, but he has yet to announce his slate.   When he announced his challenge last month, Wilson, a 27-year veteran now in the Traffic Division, chided Lynch for the way he blasted de Blasio and he criticized the PBA president for failing to get a contract or improving working conditions.

If successful, Wilson would be the PBA’s first black president.

Fusco’s running mates include three Bronx union representatives presently under indictment in the NYPD's ticket-fixing scandal. They maintain Lynch did little to prevent their arrests or stop the department from taking punitive actions against scores of other officers snared in the probe.  

Lynch supporters point out that demonstrations outside the courthouse were widely covered — “their headlines were we were too vocal,” Lynch said — and  the union has hired the best lawyers to fight the charges.

Nonetheless, Fusco says it is simply time for a change.

“My opponents are not new faces," Lynch said. "I've done the job every day and that has worked for me, and I believe the members know it has worked for them.”