New York Daily News

January 22, 2003

Mike belted with boos

But friends, kin of new cops at Garden applaud him at end

By MICHELE McPHEE
DAILY NEWS POLICE BUREAU CHIEF

  
  Mayor Bloomberg stands his ground against chorus of boos at police graduation.
 
  New officers Peter (l.) and Joseph Paese (2nd from l.) join the family business. Officer Lauren Paese is Joseph's sister, and Peter and Augie Paese (r.) are cousins.
 
  Sea of blue in Madison Square Garden, where 2,108 recruits graduated from the Police Academy yesterday.

Mayor Bloomberg has a bad case of the NYPD boos.

At a police graduation ceremony yesterday, Bloomberg was booed - not once, but twice - by the friends and families of new recruits.

The first round of Bronx cheers came when Bloomberg was introduced, along with police brass, on the stage at Madison Square Garden. Then, asthe mayor approached the microphone to address the 2,108 graduates, boos again swept through the arena.

Historically, mayors are treated with far more respect at police graduation ceremonies, although David Dinkins was booed on occasion. Even Rudy Giuliani - a former prosecutor with a pro-cop reputation - was booed once after a difficult contract settlement.

But the boos for Bloomberg - who had threatened to lay off cops to help close the city's budget crisis - seemed lustier, and come at a time when his popularity is at an all-time low.

"The mayor put these families through hell. For seven months, they worked in the academy, and then there was a threat to lay them off," said John Flynn, Manhattan trustee for the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association.

"The streets are dangerous enough," Flynn said. "They have to worry about being killed. Now they have to worry about having a job at all."

Shaking it off

After the ceremony, Bloomberg conceded there were "a handful of people who weren't thrilled" with him but said he wasn't concerned about his reception.

"You can't worry about that. You have to do what's right. And I think if you take a look today at Madison Square Garden, there were 2,100 new recruits to the New York City Police Department," he said. "We're doing all the right things, and I think most people in that Garden understood that."

Bloomberg was applauded by some during his speech, especially when he mentioned the 500 graduates who had four-year college degrees and the 200 recruits who served in the military. Still, the mayor grimaced on stage after the speech.

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly came to Bloomberg's defense, saying the crowd was "rambunctious."

"Mayors have always gotten a little static in Police Department graduations. Certainly Mayor Dinkins and Mayor Giuliani did," Kelly said after the ceremony. "It comes with the territory. He's made some tough decisions, and we're going to have to make some more."

Many of yesterday's graduates will report to high-crime neighborhoods as part of a new NYPD crimefighting initiative called Operation Impact.

The graduating class is also the first to receive specialized training to combat terrorism, including how to respond to large-scale emergencies and chemical or biological attacks.

The department eventually will add chemical protective suits, gloves and masks to all officers' standard equipment, Kelly said yesterday.

Trimming the budget

The NYPD is still talking with city budget officials about how to cut 3% from its budget. City officials had suggested that the only way to meet those sweeping cuts was to delay the hiring of the incoming Police Academy class, but in a surprise announcement last week, the mayor vowed not to diminish the already-thinning NYPD ranks.

"It's a good feeling to be promoted to become a police officer, even though this city is in a crisis financially," said Brian Davis, 30, a former school safety officer who became one of New York's Finest yesterday.

Isabel Borned, 34, wasn't concerned about budget cuts yesterday. The former bookkeeper was excited about her new career.

"It was a scary thought that I might be unemployed," Borned said, as she cradled her infant daughter. "I just want to get out there and do this job. This is the best day of my life."

With Michael Saul