Capital News 12:32 p.m. | Jan. 27, 2015

Lynch calls on de Blasio to buy new vests

By Azi Paybarah

Pat Lynch. 

Patrick Lynch, the president of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, sent a letter urging Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito to move up the date for purchasing new bulletproof vests, and asking the city to find “a permanent funding source” for new vests in the future.

"This is an issue the PBA has been pressing the City to address for some time … we believe the funds should be appropriated in the current fiscal year to allow for the immediate purchase of these vests," Lynch wrote in a January 23 letter addressed to de Blasio and Mark-Viverito, a copy of which was later provided to reporters.

Earlier this month, the City Council proposed spending $7.3 million in the FY2016 budget to purchase new vests; replacing each obsolete vests cost approximately $600.

A de Blasio administration official said their plan already calls for purchasing new vests in the current fiscal year, and permanently allocating money to buy new vests as their expiration date approaches.

The request comes as Lynch faces a challenger in the union's June elections, for the first time since his first re-election in 2003. This year, he is being challenged by a union trustee from Brooklyn South, Brian Fusco, a 27-year NYPD veteran.

Fusco has criticized Lynch for what he says is an inability to deliver resources for members, including a new contract with the mayor, along with securing pension benefits in Albany, and delivering "vests that aren’t expired."

"It’s 2015, and we have members walking around with vests that the shelf life has expired on," Fusco told Capital last week. "They're not going to be able to do the job they’re supposed to do." 

In December, Lynch led a contentious war of words with the mayor, accusing de Blasio of having “blood” on his hands after two officers were executed while sitting in their patrol car. The night of the killings, Lynch led officers in turning their back on de Blasio, as the mayor and police commissioner walked through the hospital where the two slain officers were treated. Officers also turned their backs on de Blasio at the funerals for the two officers.

Since then, tensions between police and City Hall have tempered. The mayor forcefully denounced anti-police rhetoric espoused by some activists who were planning protests, and said he would >veto a City Council bill to criminally ban the use of chokeholds by police officers. An apparent police slowdown, which led to a conspicuous drop in enforcement activity, has recently returned to normal.

Last week, when the City Council renamed a street after the two slain officers, Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu, Lynch was in the Council chambers, and publicly thanked the lawmakers for their support.

UPDATE: A spokeswoman for the mayor's office, Amy Spitalnick, said in a statement, "Ensuring the safety of NYPD officers is paramount. As the Mayor has said, he looks forward to working with the City Council and including these funds in the budget. The vests will be in the Mayor’s upcoming preliminary budget as an expenditure for the current fiscal year, which means vest purchases can begin now.”