Wall Street Journal
Updated Jan. 4, 2015
7:51 p.m. ET


No Slowdown on NYPD Enforcement, Union Says

 

Officers’ Shooting Monday Shows Police Are Turning Out: Union Head

By MICHAEL HOWARD SAUL

ADREES LATIF/REUTERS

New York Police Department officers stand in a line Tuesday before searching the site of a shooting in the Bronx that injured two officers.

New York City’s main police union has not initiated or supported a deliberate slowdown of police enforcement, the union’s president said Tuesday, one day after the city released records showing a steep reduction in arrests and summonses for the second week in a row.

Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, said in a statement that “precautions had to be taken to protect police officers so that they could protect the city’s communities” following the ambush slayings of Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos as they sat in their patrol car five days before Christmas.

“Statistics sometimes have to take a back seat to safety,” Mr. Lynch said.

But Mr. Lynch said the Monday night shooting of two other police officers who responded to a robbery is clear evidence that police are doing their job. Officers Andrew Dossi and Aliro Pellerano were shot about 10:30 p.m., but authorities said their wounds didn’t appear to be life-threatening.

“Our members are out there doing their jobs and putting themselves in danger to keep this city safe just as they always do,” Mr. Lynch said. “That’s a clear demonstration of police officer’s dedication to duty and that there is no union initiated or supported slowdown.”

On Monday, the New York Police Department released data showing a dramatic reduction in the number of arrests and summonses issued for the second week in a row.

In the week that ended Sunday, the total number of arrests declined 55.9%, compared with the same week the previous year. Parking summonses plummeted 92.6% and moving violations fell 92%.

In the past week, there were 347 criminal summonses issued for minor offenses, , compared with 4,077 during the same week a year ago, marking a 91.5% drop.

On Monday, Police Commissioner William Bratton said department officials are taking a “very comprehensive look” at the enforcement statistics to determine what is happening. He said no determination has been made, to date, whether or not the police force is engaged in a deliberate effort not to make arrests or write tickets.

Mr. Bratton said it would take several days to investigate the matter.

“The crime numbers are still going down, officers are still out in the field, and if in fact we feel—my team and I, after our analysis this week—that we’re engaged in some type of job action…we will deal with it very forcefully, very effectively,” Mr. Bratton said Monday afternoon.

Phil Walzak, a spokesman for Mayor Bill de Blasio , declined to comment Tuesday on Mr. Lynch’s assertion that the union is not supporting a slowdown. Mr. Walzak said the mayor and commissioner addressed questions about a possible slowdown on Monday.

At the hospital in the early hours of Tuesday morning, Mr. de Blasio said the wounding of the two officers Monday night was “another indicator of the dangers that our officers face in the line of duty.”

“We depend on them to keep this whole city safe,” he said. “They do it with extraordinary skill and professionalism, and there are profound dangers.”

Last month’s deaths of Officers Ramos and Liu shocked the city and widened a rift between Mr. de Blasio and some rank-and-file members of the police force. Union officials and other civic leaders have accused Mr. de Blasio of fostering an antipolice climate, and Mr. Lynch had suggested the mayor had blood on his hands after Officers Ramos and Liu were killed.

The alleged gunman in Officer Liu’s and Ramos’s killings said on social media that the killings were retaliation for the deaths of Eric Garner in New York and Michael Brown in Missouri. Messrs. Garner and Brown, both of whom are black, died this summer during high-profile encounters with police.

After Officers Ramos and Liu were killed, officers on foot patrols were ordered to travel in pairs. Officers were urged to take precautions, but Mr. Bratton insisted that the department would not curtail enforcement activities.

—Mark Morales contributes to this article.

Write to Michael Howard Saul at michael.saul@wsj.com