New York Daily News

Updated: June 24, 2015, 12:18 AM

  

 

De Blasio's decision to add 1,300 cops came after being swayed by Commissioner Bratton's vision for NYPD: sources

BY JENNIFER FERMINO, ERIN DURKIN, THOMAS TRACY, LARRY MCSHANE

BEBETO MATTHEWS/AP
Mayor de Blasio presents the city's fiscal year 2016 preliminary budget in February. In the final budget deal, he upped the number of cops.

The NYPD commissioner laid down the law.

Mayor de Blasio’s surprise Monday evening announcement to add almost 1,300 new cops to the NYPD came just two weeks after a 1 Police Plaza sitdown between him and Bill Bratton, his handpicked commissioner, according to a police source.

Bratton presented during that June 8 meeting a scenario in which his hopes for increased community policing would disappear without the additional manpower, the source indicated, a canny maneuver that would have left the mayor to explain why he refused to bulk up the force even as the crime rate rose.

Bratton, armed with charts detailing the need for extra officers, “showed it to the mayor knowing that (de Blasio) would have to choose between no new cops and adding cops to carry out Bratton’s vision,” the source said.

“There was no request for any specific number, and the mayor didn’t ask for one.”

Three days earlier, de Blasio said in a radio interview that the new city budget would include no money for additional cops.

But the pressure was building on de Blasio as he continued to face nagging questions about how he would corral an 11.6% increase in murders over last year and a 6.9% hike in shootings.

The head of one of the police unions said escalating crime left de Blasio with no choice.

“If he refuses to add more cops and crime continues to go up, it was going to land on his hands,” said Ed Mullins, president of the Sergeants Benevolent Association.

“We made this a nonnegotiable issue,” said a City Council source. “It certainly didn’t hurt that crime has been inching up.”

A top City Hall official said de Blasio never wavered from his position that the city didn’t need more cops to keep the streets safe. But the mayor was swayed by Bratton’s new vision for the department.

RICHARD HARBUS/FOR NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
PBA president Pat Lynch thinks NYPD headcount should be even higher.

“We really wanted to change how the cops deal with the community,” said the administration official. “In the course of that restructuring, Bratton and his gang came to the math on changing how the cops work.”

De Blasio, speaking Tuesday, said his position evolved in recent weeks — and denied it was affected by the harsh glare of recent increases in the murder rate, the number of people shot and the number of shooting incidents.

“There was not, like, a light shone down from the heavens,” the mayor said. “But there were some meetings with the commissioner ... where we went from a broader discussion of his vision to a much more detailed one that became very, very compelling to me.”

Three hundred of the 1,297 new cops will work in counterterrorism, and the rest will join in a new community policing program, de Blasio said in announcing the $78.5 billion city budget.

Specifically, Bratton’s plan will put police officers who typically spend their shifts in a radio car on the streets for 2 1/2 hours per tour, the police source said.

The idea is getting the cops to interact with the locals and bring the community policing concept to an unprecedented level. While they’re hitting the streets, other officers would have to field 911 calls, and that demands more cops. An average cop shift handles twenty 911 calls.

Bratton, after leaving a lengthy City Hall meeting Tuesday with Council members and the mayor, declined to discuss the specifics of changing de Blasio’s mind.

But the commissioner said he and the mayor, rather than “slugging it out, if you will,” engaged in a series of “very intense collaborative discussions.”

The deal to add the cops also came with a hard cap of $513 million for police overtime beginning in fiscal year 2016, dropping to $454 million in fiscal 2017.

This year’s OT projection is more than $550 million, and the reduction in extra pay should help fund the additional cops.

Mullins said de Blasio’s sea change shows that the mayor can be swayed.

“A lot of politics was being played, but at least we were able to change his mind — and that’s a good sign,” Mullins said.

“You can have your opinion and stick to it, but you can’t do without public safety.”

Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch criticized the mayor for not going far enough.

“We have lost nearly 7,000 (cops) since 2001,” Lynch said in a statement. “Understaffing not only empowers criminals, but it leads management to make bad policy decisions.”

Those “bad decisions” include “quotas for police activities in an effort to compensate for the shortage” said Lynch — tactics that led to an increase in stop-and-frisks a few years ago.

With Rocco Parascandola, Tina Moore

ttracy@nydailynews.com