Queens Tribune

December 2003

Best of the Finest and Bravest: P.B.A. President Patrick Lynch

By Liz Goff

Welcome to New York City, home of the drive-by shooting, quality of life crime and John Gotti.

The once-crime ridden Big Apple has been crawling with cops since 1995, when "Team Bratton" transformed its streets into the safest, nationwide. Behind the headlines is a force of 38,000 cops who catch the killers, crooks and criminals who prey on New Yorkers. Patrick Lynch is one of those cops.

Lynch, 40, patrolled the streets of New York City for 16 years. He suffered through stifling summers in sweaty precinct locker rooms, tackled bad guys to the pavement, and developed street smarts as only NYC cops can.

But these days, Lynch has turned in his uniform for pinstripes. The Bayside native was recently elected to his second term as president of the New York City Patrolman's Benevolent Association (PBA). And although he walks a different beat, Lynch is still every inch a cop. He walks the walk, talks the talk, and wields a blend of political power — and his street smarts — to lobby for what's best for the city's cops. Patrick Lynch is our "Best of the Finest."

Lynch went on "the job" in 1984, when violent crime had invaded every inch of the city.

"It was tough to be on the street back then, "Lynch said. "Guns, drugs, violence were snapping up victims left and right." Enter former New York City Mayor Rudy Giulianni and Police Commissioner William Bratton, who computerized crime and sent scores of cops onto the street to annihilate it. "New York City police officers did a phenomenal job," Lynch said. "But they have yet to reap the credit — or the reward for their accomplishments."

Lynch said the success continued until recently, when experienced cops started to retire and the NYPD's numbers tumbled. "Policies have changed, "Lynch said. "Working conditions are awful, and there is little or no incentive for veteran cops to stay on the job, "he said. "And the city continues in its refusal to pay cops what they deserve."

"NYC cops made the streets livable, "Lynch said, "but we are now in danger of having staffing levels decrease to a point where criminals head back to the street. "We had enough police officers to go out and overwhelm criminals, " he said. "Enough of us to keep a lid on crime. Staffing levels are so low now that criminals are willing to take a chance to see if they're going to get away with it, "he said. The current "crisis situation" could cause the city to "slide back" to levels of crime that "we saw in the 1970's and 80's," Lynch said."Regardless of budget restraints, the city must find money to hire more cops."

Lynch was first elected to head the PBA in 1999. Since his re-election on June 6, he has spent more of his time trying to drive home the importance of proper staffing levels to city and state officials. Unlike his predecessor, Lou Mattarazza, Lynch prefers to lobby for the city's cops behind the scenes, but he is not afraid to call on the press to demand increased wages and better working conditions for New York's Finest. He is an intelligent, tough negotiator — and when it comes to backing his rank and file, he isn't afraid to "get his Irish up" to show that he means business. Insiders at City Hall refer to the PBA as "proverbial 800-pound gorilla," packing a punch with political endorsements and campaign contributions. Lynch wields his union's power with a blend of street smarts and political savvy, insiders said. "He is certainly not someone you are going to be able to ignore," they said.

Roots

The seventh of seven children (six boys and one girl), Lynch attributes much of his success to his upbringing — and to life lessons he learned as a student at St. Robert Bellarmine School in Bayside.

Lynch's father, a Flushing native, worked for 30 years as a motorman for the MTA, snaking the city's subway cars from station to station. He met a young woman from Kiltimagh, Ireland, "in County Mayo," Lynch said. "She was wooed and won over" by the motorman from Queens, Lynch said. "And the rest is history."

A paper route, sports and school activities filled his days as a "kid growing up in Bayside," Lynch said. He joined the school band, and met the young woman who would be his wife, Kathleen Casey.

" I was a regular kid," he said, "checking out the local fields for pick-up games, rooting for the Mets, and holding down a summer and after-school jobs for pocket money."

Lynch said he became a cop because he "wanted to be a cop" and graduated from the Police academy in 1984. He spent 15 years at the 90th Precinct in Willamsburgh, Brooklyn — including three years as the command's community relations officer, before his first successful bid for PBA president.

Lynch lives with his wife and sons 12- and 10-years-old, in a house located just three blocks from the house where he was raised. H e "loves" all of Queens, but is partial to Bayside, a "great neighborhood with a great family atmosphere, "he said.

"It (Bayside) is diverse, but is easily accessible to the city" and "what the city is all about," Lynch said. " And it's close enough to Long Island for kids to get a taste of both worlds."

Lynch said he has no intention of ever living " anywhere but Queens. This is home, "he said. And he will continue to battle for issues that affect city cops — and the city's neighborhoods.

"The biggest concern, especially in the outer boroughs like Queens, is to have the proper number of police officers in those neighborhoods, "Lynch said. "We cannot overestimate the safety factor involved here.

"The city has to set its budget restraints and make cuts, "he added. "But City Hall must put safety of its citizens first — and all else follows."