American Police Beat October 2004

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NYPD vs. Bloomberg

In the Northeastern United States, negotiating a police contract is rapidly turning into a blood sport. In July it was the battle in Boston between police officers and the mayor.

But not even the media slug-fest that characterized the fight for a contract in Boston can compare with what’s been happening in New York City.

The fight over wages and benefits between Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and the police and firefighters grew nastier recently when union members held a noisy 1AM protest outside the mayor’s Upper East Side town house.

Seeking to turn up the pressure on the mayor, Patrick Lynch, the president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association held several demonstrations during the Republican National Convention. New York’s police officers, like its firefighters, are held in high esteem because of their role in confronting the Sept. 11 attack.

Hoping to persuade Mr. Bloomberg to make a more generous offer, police officers and firefighters dogged him everywhere he went over the summer, picketing and heckling him.

In addition, the leaders of the police and fire unions have warned that they have not ruled out a strike, even though state law prohibits walkouts by government employees.

“The mayor has created these tensions with his unreasonable and unacceptable contract offer,’’ said Stephen Cassidy, the president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association.

At a City Hall news conference, Mr. Bloomberg recently insisted that he would not let the unions’ pressure tactics intimidate him.

He also belittled the raucous rally and candlelight vigil that hundreds of police officers and firefighters staged outside his house on 79th Street near Fifth Avenue in August.

“We are not going to be intimidated,’’ Mr. Bloomberg said. “I’m not going to go do a labor deal because people are yelling and screaming. All the yelling and screaming isn’t going to accomplish anything, other than keeping them up late at night. I slept very well.’’