New York Daily News

January 10, 2015, 4:00 AM



Pat Lynch, lawbreaker

When cops don't respect labor laws, New Yorkers have a serious problem


Half steps won't do

For three weeks, the NYPD’s rank and file have dramatically reduced enforcement of major sections of law, from parking regulations to larceny statutes.

Now, evidence documents that the unionized Finest have also been breaking the law — specifically the Taylor Law that bars strikes and job actions by municipal labor.

The Daily News reported Friday that PBA President Patrick Lynch had told union trustees to tell members to resume enforcement activities, but only halfway.

While such a trend would be welcome, the directive puts Lynch in the position of sanctioning, if not orchestrating, a partial and illegal slowdown. If so, Taylor Law penalties must follow.

For his part, Commissioner Bill Bratton belatedly acknowledged for the first time Friday that cops across the city had, in fact, abandoned their duties in recent weeks. He said, however, that they now appeared to be returning to full function.

Lynch went to war with Mayor de Blasio after a grand jury declined to indict the cop who wrestled Eric Garner to the ground with a fatal chokehold.

De Blasio sparked justified anger among cops by stating that the case grew out of hundreds of years of racism and by saying that he had cautioned his mixed-race son Dante to approach officers with caution.

Lynch responded with misguided and inflammatory rhetoric, including urging cops to state that they would not want de Blasio to attend their funerals in the event they were killed in the line of duty.

Lynch’s open sympathy toward a slowdown that threatens public safety was still more irresponsible. Affecting a hands-off posture, the union has contended that cops stopped enforcement their own. Lynch’s spokesman also asserted that the union president does not have the power to guide the performance of his members.

This Dec. 27, 2014, file photo shows police officers turning their backs as New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks at the funeral of New York city police officer Rafael Ramos in the Glendale section of Queens, in New York. Mayor Bill de Blasio is winding down his first year in office, which saw success at fulfilling many of his liberal campaign promises. But the year ends with his young mayoralty facing its biggest crisis yet: an open rebellion from police officers who don't believe the mayor supports them.

Give us a break. On Dec. 18, just before the assassinations of Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu, and just before the slowdown start, Lynch told his union delegates:

“If we won’t get support when we do our jobs, if we’re going to get hurt for doing what’s right, then we’re going to do it the way they want it. Let me be perfectly clear. We will use extreme discretion in every encounter.”

Lynch added: “Our friends, we’re courteous to them. Our enemies, extreme discretion. The rules are made by them to hurt you. Well, now we’ll use those rules to protect us.”

He shifted toward the halfway slowdown after Bratton finally started to move against passive cops. One officer has been suspended for insubordination, a preposterously small number after such long inaction.

Plainly, de Blasio has been gunshy about taking on the PBA at a time when the force has turned against him. City Hall has said he hoped the slowdown would end without mayoral muscle. Aides said that seeking hefty Taylor Law penalties against the PBA would be a “nuclear option.”

Actually, the law is the public’s first line of defense against job actions by public employees — and is a particularly necessary weapon when police wildcatting jeopardizes public safety.

That the slowdown may be ending, as Bratton believes, is no reason to avoid invoking the law simply to establish who is in charge: Bratton, not Lynch.