New York Post
January 12, 2001


SINGING THE NYPD BLUES

By LARRY CELONA, WILLIAM J. GORTA, IKIMULISA SOCKWELL-MASON, MURRAY WEISS, GREG BIRNBAUM and MAGGIE HABERMAN

Photo PBA WANTS ITS PAY:
A protester demands to know why he doesn't deserve a raise.
- NYP: Tamara Beckwith

Chanting, "show us the money," and blasting Mayor Giuliani, thousands of off-duty cops gathered at City Hall yesterday for a noisy but peaceful rally calling for a wage hike.

The crowd got loud but never out of control as police union leaders called on Giuliani, who once enjoyed popularity with the NYPD, to jump-start stalled contract talks.

"Mr. Mayor, it's often said that you have the second-toughest job in America - well, I'm here to tell you, we've got the first!" Patrolmen's Benevolent Association president Patrick Lynch screamed to his members.

"Don't give us false praise, give us a raise!" shouted Lynch, who shared a stage with police union leaders from other cities, elected officials and relatives of slain cops.

City Council Speaker Peter Vallone (D-Queens), actor Jerry Orbach - who plays a cop on the TV drama "Law & Order" - and oddball political candidate "Grandpa" Al Lewis were also on hand.

Most criticized Giuliani - who led a riotous 1992 police rally where cops hurled racial slurs and profanity at then-Mayor David Dinkins - for touting the city's drop in crime while the last PBA contract included two years of a wage freeze.

"They tell me crime is down, murders are down, revenue is up," said Lynch, whose members earn a starting salary of about $31,000 a year.

"But our salaries are down . . . They have an obligation to repay us."

Lynch - who wants the starting salary to compare to places like Newark, where cops make about 39 percent more - has said the seven-month-old contract talks are at an impasse.

The PBA had also praised his members for keeping the rally calm, saying they "broke the stereotype" created by the 1992 protest.

Hundreds of cops - some with their wives and children in tow - carried signs reading, "No justice, no police!" and "Giuliani, why have you betrayed us?"

Officer Andrew Cruz, of Brooklyn's 88th Precinct, said, "When [Giuliani] wanted to get elected, who did he come to? It's very hypocritical."

Giuliani told reporters the city is offering "a fair raise." He said the raise the PBA wants would cost almost $7 billion and would bankrupt the city.

"I have great regard for police officers," Giuliani said, adding: "You have to be able to say no . . . I can't give people everything they want."

Crowd estimates for the two-hour protest ranged wildly.

Police officials first said there were about 7,000 protesters, then changed it to 4,500. PBA officials put the figure between 12,000 and 15,000.

While the rally broke up peacefully around 1 p.m., as many as 500 police supervisors were on hand at City Hall to make sure thing stayed calm.

One of them was Chief Allan Hoehl of the Manhattan South patrol bureau, who ordered police to pull over a truck and ticket the driver who tapped his horn in a show of support as he drove down Broadway near the rally.

Driver Ron Libardi, who was issued a summons for "horn use other than danger," said, "I'm actually shocked. I'm a union guy. I wanted to show support."

Top brass from the detectives union promptly approached Libardi and offered to pay for the ticket.