New York Daily News

January 27, 2015, 11:42 AM

  

 

The Shack

 

PBA to mayor: We need bullet-proof vests now!

By Thomas Tracy

Mayor de Blasio has already committed to purchasing the bullet proof vests in FY2016.

The NYPD’s police union is demanding Mayor de Blasio ramp up his plans to buy bullet-proof vests for cops — a request that will test their frosty but improving relationship, insiders said.

On Friday, the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association hand delivered a letter to City Hall requesting that de Blasio purchase bullet-proof vests for cops this year instead of next year, as the mayor has promised.

“While we are very appreciative of both the Mayor's and Council Speaker's support for the purchase of new vests in FY 2016, we have called upon them both to move up the timeline and to purchase this life-saving equipment immediately,” PBA President Pat Lynch said in a statement. “We see absolutely no reason to have to wait a half year or more in order to equip our members with the best protection available.”

“The Mayor and Council Speaker have both agreed on the need for the purchase, it is clear that the funds are available and there is absolutely no reason to delay,” Lynch said.

A union insider said  Lynch’s request is a test of sorts for de Blasio as the mayor tries to build bridges with union leaders.

“It’s a positive sign when the mayor instructs the public that they can’t resist arrest, and says that he supports buying bullet-proof vests, but this is action and it’s not going to cost the city anything,” the insider said.

De Blasio angered Lynch when, after a Staten Island grand jury opted not to indict the cop accused in the chokehold death of Eric Garner, the mayor admitted he  had told his biracial son Dante to be wary of the police.

Lynch accused of throwing cops  “under the bus.”

PBA President Pat Lynch said there is "no reason to delay" the purchase of bullet-proof vests.

When Police Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos were fatally shot in their squadcar in Brooklyn on Dec. 20, Lynch said there was “blood on the hands” of the mayor in the wake of their killings, citing de Blasio’s support for anti-police brutality protesters.

Yet Lynch’s vitriolic statements backfired, with some of his delegates accusing him of putting his “temper tantrum” ahead of officer safety.

A  group called “Strengthen the Shield” was formed during the division, with group leader and PBA delegate Brian Fusco announcing that he plans to unseat Lynch come election time.

The Strengthen the Shield slate has also called for the purchase of new bullet-proof vests, but the PBA insider said Lynch’s demand isn’t a campaign ploy.

“This is something we’ve been working on for some time,” the insider said.

City Hall officials said they have always planned to get the bullet proof vests as soon as possible.

“Ensuring the safety of NYPD officers is paramount," said Amy Spitalnick of the city's office of managment and budget. "As the Mayor has said, he looks forward to working with the City Council and including these funds in the budget. The vests will be in the Mayor’s upcoming preliminary budget as an expenditure for the current fiscal year, which means vest purchases can begin now.”

ttracy@nydailynews.com