Chief-Leader
October 28, 2013

 

PBA Backing Thompson for DA May Be Death Knell for Hynes’s Chances

Shores Up Democratic Nominee’s Credentials

By MARK TOOR

In a surprise move that damaged the faint hope of Charles “Joe” Hynes to win a seventh term Nov. 5, the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association Oct. 30 endorsed Kenneth S. Thompson for Brooklyn District Attorney.

“He understands what safe streets mean to the borough of Brooklyn and to the entire city,” PBA President Patrick J. Lynch said at a rally outside Brooklyn Borough Hall. “He understands the role of police officers in getting that job done.”

Mom a Career Cop

“I am determined to make sure I support our officers,” said Mr. Thompson, whose mother joined the NYPD in 1973, became one of the first women on patrol and was a member of the PBA. “It was through my mother that I learned about the tremendous courage and sacrifices that police officers make to keep our city safe.”

“I look forward to establishing a close working relationship with the PBA to address problems such as quota requirements for arrests and summonses, which have led to the excessive use of stop and frisk,” he said, referring to an issue on which the PBA opposes NYPD practices that include what it has called a quota for stops and its use of the numbers as part of its performance evaluations. “Stop-and-frisk should be used constitutionally. It should not be part of a numbers game.”

Mr. Thompson has made two statements that might be expected to upset the PBA. He has pledged to put Assistant District Attorneys in busy precincts to review arrests arising from stop-and-frisks and kick the cases immediately if the stops were not legally justified. And he said low-level marijuana arrests are clogging the system. But a PBA source said the union committee that recommends endorsements had still selected him over Mr. Hynes, who was “testy” during an interview.

SBA Sticking With Hynes

The president of the Sergeants’ Benevolent Association, Edward D. Mullins, told THE CHIEF-LEADER that his union is endorsing the incumbent. “Hynes and his office have done a good job,” Mr. Mullins said. In a borough that’s had plenty of violent crime, including murders of police officers, he said, Mr. Hynes “has taken the approach of being a fair prosecutor...He’s presented those cases fairly.” The other three police unions have not announced an endorsement to date.

Jerry Schmetterer, a spokesman for the Hynes campaign, declined to comment directly on the PBA endorsement of Mr. Thompson. “But we’re proud to have the endorsements of the Court Officers Association, the Uniformed Sanitationmen’s Association, and the Uniformed Fire Officers,” he said.

Mr. Hynes is a former Fire Commissioner who was very popular with his troops, and Court Officers Association President Dennis Quirk is his campaign manager.

Just When He Seemed Out...

Mr. Thompson, a 47-year-old former Federal prosecutor who is now in private practice, defeated Mr. Hynes, 78, in the Sept. 10 Democratic primary by a surprising 10-point margin. Historically, winning the primary has been tantamount to gaining election in the overwhelmingly Democratic borough.

Mr. Hynes on primary night said in his concession speech that “the people of Brooklyn have spoken” and that he would work on a smooth transition with Mr. Thompson.

But on Oct. 8, Mr. Hynes announced that he was continuing his campaign on the Republican and Conservative lines, which he had garnered before the primary.

Noting that only 18 percent of Democrats had voted in the primary, Mr. Hynes said that failing to continue would be tantamount to disenfranchising them. Further, he said, an outpouring of support he had received since the primary had convinced him that there was enough money and voter enthusiasm for him to make a credible race.

He said he was offended by reports that an old adversary, former Brooklyn Democratic Leader Clarence Norman Jr., had worked for Mr. Thompson’s campaign. Mr. Hynes had convicted Mr. Norman of extorting campaign contributions and had put him in prison. The DA rejected Mr. Thompson’s denial that Mr. Norman had been part of his campaign, and Mr. Norman has not commented on whether he had a role.

Questioned Qualifications

Mr. Hynes repeated charges he made during the campaign about Mr. Thompson’s lack of experience, saying that in five years with the U.S. Attorney’s Office he had never been promoted to supervisor, that he had no experience with the state criminal-justice system in which he would be working as DA, and that running an eight-lawyer firm did not give him the background to manage the 600 lawyers and additional 600 support staffers in the Brooklyn DA’s Office.

During the primary campaign, Mr. Thompson had hit Mr. Hynes hard over news reports of scandals in the DA’s Office. They included the release of two men convicted of murder who gained their freedom only after many years in prison, criticism by Federal Judges of supposed overreaching by a top Hynes deputy in one of those cases, among others, and questions about whether he had been reluctant to prosecute Hasidic Jews accused of molesting children.

Mr. Thompson also sharply criticized Mr. Hynes for failing to speak out against the NYPD’s aggressive stop-and-frisk program, which was declared unconstitutional in August by U.S. District Judge Shira A. Scheindlin.

Stung by Foe’s Ridicule

Mr. Hynes, who has created dozens of pre-trial-diversion and other programs aimed at breaking people out of seemingly permanent involvement with the criminal-justice system, said Mr. Thompson had ridiculed those initiatives, calling them “social work not fit for the office of prosecutor.”

Mr. Thompson has been endorsed Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand; the four members of Congress representing Brooklyn; the Brooklyn Democratic Party; Democratic mayoral nominee Bill de Blasio and the party’s Comptroller nominee, Scott Stringer; outgoing Borough President Marty Markowitz; Public Advocate nominee Letitia James, and Council Members Diana Reyna and Darlene Mealy.

On the labor front, he is supported by District Council 37, Transit Workers Union Local 100, the Communications Workers of America District 1, the Corrections Officers Benevolent Association, the State Supreme Court Officers Association, and 1199/SEIU United Healthcare Workers East.