New York Daily News

JExpress

January 11, 2001

NYPD Blue

City Hall protest draws thousands

By PAULA YOUNG and PETER DeMARCO

TExpresshere were cops as far as the eye could see today outside City Hall as union members staged a raucous rally to pressure Mayor Giuliani for pay raises.

But unlike a 1992 rally that turned violent, today's protest was fairly peaceful in its early stages.

About 6,000 off-duty cops, some with their families, lined the sidewalk and one lane of West Broadway to hear Patrolmen's Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch's midday rally speech.

Hundreds of uniformed cops and supervisors patrolled the crowd to prevent a repeat of the 1992 rally, when hordes of shouting cops shut down the Brooklyn Bridge and unleashed racial slurs at then-Mayor David Dinkins as they tried to storm City Hall — encouraged by then-mayoral candidate Rudy Giuliani.

"This protest will work, and I hope that it will spark the long-needed negotiations with the mayor and the city," Lynch told the Daily News Express. "The police working here will not stay if they do not have a decent wage."

The union's 27,000 members have gone more than two years without a pay increase, and last Friday the union declared negotiations with the city to be at an impasse.

"We're here to be heard," said Officer Tom Ruta of the Bronx's 52nd Precinct. "The sweat equity from the brows of the Police Department and our hard work is the reason that crime is down in the city. It's time we got rewarded for our work."

"New York City cops are real heroes," said transit cop Richard Obdyke, 34. "It's time for us to get a pay raise and be treated like heroes."

The PBA points out that New York has the lowest overall crime rate of any city with a population of more than 1 million and crime has declined 57% since Giuliani took office seven years ago.

Cops are looking for pay equal to police in other major cities. Newark cops, they point out, earn $58,000 after five years on the job, compared with $49,000 for cops in the NYPD.

The mayor says large raises for cops would gut city coffers. He did not comment on today's rally.

With JOHN MARZULLI