Politico New York
7:17 p.m. | Nov. 9, 2015


Lynch: ‘High-tech gadgets’ no substitute for raises for police officers

By LAURA NAHMIAS

t will take more than “high-tech gadgets” to improve the mood among the city’s 24,000 rank-and file police officers, Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association president Pat Lynch said Monday.

Lynch was responding to remarks that New York Police Department commissioner Bill Bratton and Mayor Bill de Blasio made earlier in the day when asked whether a draft contract that would give PBA members 1 percent raises each year for two years would dampen morale in the NYPD.

“I actually think the morale of the officers is pretty well,” Bratton said as he stood next to de Blasio during an unrelated press conference.

“Are they unhappy about the pay issues? They certainly are — that’s been expressed by Mr. Lynch,” he said.

Meanwhile, Bratton said, the city’s officers had a lot of other things besides salary increases to brighten their spirits, such as new equipment.

“As far as morale, we’re doing an awful lot for morale of the officers in this department,” he said. “We’ve totally changed the discipline system. We have responded with all new bulletproof vests to make sure that they all have them within the five-year liability. We are continually increasing the equipment they get to work with — the smartphones, the training."

De Blasio, who last week said Lynch did not speak for the whole NYPD in his criticisms of the proposed contract, said Monday that shortened disposition of cases through the city’s Civilian Complaint Review Board, which handles complaints against officers, had also improved officers' spirits.

“The Mayor and Police Commissioner are confusing high-tech gadgets that improve job efficiency and safety equipment, that they are required to provide by law, with things that improve morale,” Lynch said of their remarks in an emailed statement.

Lynch, who decided to circumvent the typical contract negotiation process and fight for wage increases through binding arbitration, has called the draft contract “demoralizing” and “insulting” to his members. He led a protest with other police officers last Thursday outside the Yorkville home of Howard Edelman, the arbitrator responsible for drafting the contract agreement.

“Our members’ morale is at rock bottom because nothing has been done to help them feed their families, pay their rent or put shoes on their children’s feet," Lynch's statement Monday continued. "Police officers believe that Howard Edelman's neutrality in this arbitration was totally co-opted by the city and, as a result, their ability to support their families has suffered at the city's hands."

Bratton said Monday that when Lynch decided to go to binding arbitration, which is virtually impossible to undo, he "rolled the dice, and he lost on this roll of the dice. That’s quite clear."