New York Daily News

February  23, 2004

Key cop issue is money, PBA head tells WRKS



After a week in which many black radio callers and hosts expressed anger over a white policeman's exoneration in the shooting death of 19-year-old Timothy Stansbury, the head of the PBA explained his union's perspective yesterday to listeners on WRKS (98.7 FM).

Pat Lynch, president of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, spent much of his time on Kiss' "Open Line" talking about larger issues of police-community relations, recruiting and staffing.

He called the unarmed Stanbury's death a tragedy in which Officer Richard Neri followed proper procedure. A grand jury declined to indict Neri last week.

Lynch told callers, many of whom questioned the PBA's support for Neri, that there are areas in which police "should explain to the community exactly why we do certain things the way we do.... Unfortunately, at times, this [communication] is missing."

But the larger problem, he said, is that city police officers are badly underpaid compared to colleagues in other municipalities or even at the Port Authority.

The department is currently down 5,000 positions, he said, and until police make "a living wage," it will be difficult to recruit enough highly skilled officers to do the job the way it should be done.

On the issue of diversity, he said the department and the union are more inclusive than ever. But, he added, "I'm not concerned with hiring more officers from particular groups. I'm concerned with hiring the best officers possible."