Capital News 4:08 p.m. | Jan. 14, 2015


Mayor won’t apologize to police for his ‘fundamental beliefs’

By Dana Rubinstein and Azi Paybarah

Demetrius Freeman/Mayoral Photography Office
Bill de Blasio

Mayor Bill de Blasio adopted a stern demeanor on Wednesday, warning protesters not to resort to any “sick” rhetoric toward police officers but saying he can’t apologize for things he’s said that the police don’t like.

“The things that I have said that I believe are what I believe,” the mayor said. “And you can’t apologize for your fundamental beliefs.”

A group called the ANSWER Coalition plans to protests Thursday on city streets and subways.

“The groups involved in those protests scheduled for tomorrow have a long history of unfortunately allowing some of their members to say really inappropriate, reprehensible things about our police officers,” de Blasio said during an unrelated event in the Bronx. “Things I think are actually quite sick. Anything that suggests violence toward police. They may have a constitutional right to chant their chants, but they’re wrong and they’re denigrating any notion of calling for reform.”

The timing of de Blasio’s more-forceful-than-usual remarks may not be coincidental.

On Tuesday, a Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association meeting reportedly devolved into pushing, shoving and shouting after some members told P.B.A. president Pat Lynch that they cared less about securing an apology from the mayor, and more about better equipment, like patrol cars and vests. This week, it was revealed that only 4 percent of union members signed a P.B.A.-circulated petition asking the mayor not to appear at their funerals, should they die in the line of duty.

“I always assumed there was a real diversity of opinion,” de Blasio said. “And I think it is more on display now.”

His stronger tone notwithstanding, de Blasio continues to hew closely to the position of his police commissioner, Bill Bratton, who has managed to retain good relations with police union leaders and rank-and-file officers, even as they spar with the mayor.

De Blasio, again, told reporters why he opposed a bill before the City Council to criminally outlaw the use of chokeholds by police—a position Bratton has also articulated.

"We are adamant about making sure the NYPD rules and regulations are followed that prohibit the use of chokeholds in any normal interaction between police and the community," the mayor said. "That couldn’t be clearer. ... Those chokehold prohibitions go back almost 30 years in this city. But I don’t believe that enacting a law which would make it a criminal offense to utilize a chokehold is appropriate, because I believe there are exceptional situations in which the life of an officer may be at stake."

The mayor also deferred to Bratton when asked about the commissioner's comments on The Charlie Rose Show, where he said the hiring of Al Sharpton's longtime spokeswoman, Rachel Noerdlinger, to be chief of staff to the mayor’s wife fueled police anger at de Blasio. Bratton said the revelation Noerdlinger's live-in boyfriend had a lengthy criminal record and wrote disparagingly of police officers on social media "began to poison the well" between cops and the mayor.

De Blasio—who steadfastly defended Noerdlinger, even as she left the administration—let Bratton's remarks stand.

"He has a right to offer his view of things," the mayor said. "I have such immense respect for commissioner Bratton. ... We talk constantly, we share a very, very, very strong vision for where this city has to go. We are united. He can go on a TV show and offer an analysis if he wants to do. That’s fine. That’s his right.”