New York Daily News

 December 31, 2014, 9:33 AM


 

 

Bill de Blasio meets with NYPD union leaders, PBA chief Patrick Lynch, but fails to repair his broken relationship with police

 

The mayor didn’t offer an apology to police union bosses during Tuesday’s meeting. Instead, he tried to counter criticism that he is anti-cop and said he would push for full prosecution of anyone who attacks a police officer. Union leaders criticized him for his remarks involving the Eric Garner case. Sources said everyone shook hands when the meeting was over. They plan on meeting again after the funeral of Officer Wenjian Liu.

BY JENNIFER FERMINO, ROCCO PARASCANDOLA, CORKY SIEMASZKO

    
   
   

If the cops were looking for an apology from Mayor de Blasio, they were sadly disappointed.

Instead, during a sometimes tense, 21/2-hour summit Tuesday, de Blasio tried to counter criticism that he is anti-cop and said he would push for full prosecution of anyone who ever attacks a police officer.

Meanwhile, the union chiefs — particularly Detectives Endowment Association chief Michael Palladino — gave the mayor an earful about his remarks on the controversial Eric Garner case.

“He didn’t apologize,” a source familiar with what went on in the meeting told the Daily News. “He’s not going to apologize.”

De Blasio would not respond to criticisms from cops about his close ties to the Rev. Al Sharpton. He left it to Police Commissioner Bill Bratton and Chief of Department James O’Neill to tout the various initiatives City Hall has made on behalf of the police, the source said.

There were no angry outbursts from Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association boss Patrick Lynch, who just days earlier accused the mayor of having “blood on the hands” after Brooklyn Police Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu were killed by a cop-hating lunatic on Dec. 20.

“It was adversarial at times, cooperative and respectful at times, but not collegial,” the source said. “Both sides agreed to disagree about who disrespected who first.”

A source with knowledge of the meeting agreed that the tone of the sitdown, held in an eighth-floor conference room at the Police Academy in College Point, Queens, was more “businesslike” than friendly.

“There was no yelling,” that source said.

De Blasio tried to emphasize his common ground with the unions, pointing out his support for broken-windows policing and his reservations about a City Council bill that would make the police chokehold that killed Garner illegal.

MARK BONIFACIO/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Mayor de Blasio met with the leaders of five unions from the NYPD to discuss issues. They met at the Police Academy in Queens. 
JOHN ROCA/FOR NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Mayor de Blasio arrived early at Tuesday's meeting with police union leaders. When the meeting was over, he dodged reporters. 

Currently it is just banned by the NYPD.

When the meeting was over, everybody shook hands, sources said. The union leaders plan to meet again with de Blasio in the days after Liu’s funeral, sources said.

De Blasio dodged reporters as he departed, leaving it to spokesman Phil Walzak to deliver a boilerplate statement.

“Today’s meeting focused on building a productive dialogue and identifying ways to move forward together,” his statement read. “The mayor and police commissioner remain committed to keeping crime in New York City at historically low levels, supporting the brave men and women in uniform who protect us every day, and finding ways to bring police and the community closer together.”

Lynch, looking grim and flanked by the other NYPD union heads, said the summit was mostly a bust.

JOHN ROCA/FOR NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
PBA honcho Patrick Lynch speaks to reporters. Lynch and other police union leaders met with the mayor Tuesday to resolve their issues.
Todd Maisel/New York Daily News
PBA union boss Patrick Lynch (R) and other police union officials met with the mayor Tuesday, but made no progress on resolving their issues with City Hall.
Todd Maisel/New York Daily News
Mayor de Blasio (R) met with police union bosses Tuesday to improve the mayor's sour relationship with cops.
Bryan Smith/for New York Daily News
NYPD Commissioner William Bratton (third from left) and Mayor de Blasio attend a police graduation on Monday.

“We came together today because our main concern is for the safety of New York City police officers and the safety of the citizens of New York, who we proudly serve and protect,” he said. “There were conversations on a number of issues but no resolution on any. Actions speak louder than words, and we’ll see what happens.”

Lynch refused to take any questions. And as he left, the city was bracing for more anti-police protests on New Year’s Eve by demonstrators still seething over a Staten Island grand jury’s decision not to indict the cop who killed Garner.

After days of bitter barbs and recriminations, many in the city had hoped de Blasio and the police unions might be able to settle their differences.

It was de Blasio who extended the olive branch to Lynch.

While he was trying to broker the sitdown, high-ranking aides reached out to labor leaders, business leaders, clergy and other politicians, sources told The News, in what City Hall called an effort to keep the rhetoric calm and urge unity.

Some sources said the calls, placed over the weekend and into Monday, were an attempt to align widespread support behind the mayor, and the leaders contacted were asked to bash Lynch.

A City Hall spokeswoman strongly denied that, but said that before it became clear that the cop unions would agree to meet, City Hall had considered calling together as many other unions as possible in an alternative unity powwow.

But the sitdown with the police union chiefs came off. The mayor, famous for his tardiness, even showed up seven minutes early — though the chiefs still managed to arrive ahead of him.

There were also the first signs of a possible thaw before both sides started talking when the head of the NYPD captains union told his members not to turn their backs on the mayor at Liu’s upcoming funeral.

Many cops did just that at Ramos’ funeral on Saturday.

Heeding Bratton’s advice, de Blasio did not bring along his wife, Chirlane McCray. He was accompanied by First Deputy Mayor Anthony Shorris and two key aides.

Also off the table was any talk of the contentious contract negotiations between the NYPD and the city, sources said.

The Justice League NYC, one of the groups behind the citywide protests, tweeted that de Blasio and the union leaders “should be discussing ending broken windows policing.”

That police strategy is backed by the mayor and Bratton, but critics say it unfairly targets minorities and the poor. Cops were trying to bust Garner on July 17 for peddling untaxed cigarettes when he died.

De Blasio has taken heat for expressing sympathy for protesters demonstrating against the Garner decision and embracing Sharpton, a frequent police critic.

He also angered many rank-and-file officers by revealing that he told his son Dante, who is biracial, to be wary around police officers.

“Instead of saying that while you may be unhappy with the grand jury, you have to respect the decision, he went with ‘200 years of racism’ and advising his son, Dante, not to trust us,” Lynch’s spokesman, Al O’Leary, told Bloomberg News before the meeting.

“If you’re not out there wearing a bulletproof vest, you cannot appreciate the betrayal they feel by those words.”

Beverly Brooks, 70, stopped by the Ramos home Tuesday to deliver a bouquet of flowers to his widow, Maritza.

“It’s very sad,” she said, referring to murders of Liu and Ramos in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.

Brooks said her son is an NYPD detective and that they frequently spoke about the dangers of policing.

“As the mother of a police officer, I felt even worse,” she added.

Liu’s wake will be Saturday and the funeral is being held Sunday.

With Natalie Fertig, Edgar Sandoval

csiemaszko@nydailynews.com