2:18 p.m. | Mar. 15, 2016
By AZI PAYBARAH
Ninety-five percent of uniformed officers disapprove of the job Mayor Bill de Blasio is doing, while two-thirds of them approve of NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton’s work, according to an online survey of 6,004 members of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, which represents more than 24,000 police officers in the NYPD.
Uniformed officers also feel the city has gotten less safe since de Blasio took office two years ago, and they say their low morale is driven, chiefly, by a proposed one percent raise they were recently offered. And three-quarters of police officers support wearing body-cameras.
PBA president Patrick Lynch, who has frequently clashed with de Blasio, said the survey's results provide empirical data on how to improve morale and safety in the department.
“We can say it’s a scientific poll” Lynch told reporters, standing in the 11th floor conference room of the union’s lower Manhattan office this morning. “Morale is at an all-time low” and hit “rock bottom.” Lynch said, “Here is what our members are thinking. Here’s how they feel unsupported in the NYPD. … City Hall, this is how our members feel. And it’s real. This is an opportunity to solve the problem.”
He said “this is the voice” of police officers, and this should not be dismissed.”
What do PBA members like “LEAST” about de Blasio? Eighteen percent said he is “anti-cop” and 16 percent said “Everything”; eight percent said he it was his “attitude” of “disrespect” for the NYPD.
The survey — the first ever of PBA members — was conducted by McLaughlin & Associates, whose founder, John McLaughlin, told reporters, “These are the kind of numbers that stun pollsters.” Lynch left open the possibility of doing more polls of PBA members, to help track trends and changes in their views.
The survey was conducted online between February 9 and February 26, and 12,548 PBA members got an invitation to take the survey, according to a release.
McLaughlin said his poll used “the same methodology” and “the same kind of study and same professional methodology that the police department did in their own management study,” conducted two year ago. But, he added, “I don’t think they released the whole thing. I haven’t seen anything like what the PBA is putting out. But if they want to say they have different results, they should put it out.”
An NYPD official told POLITICO New York the methodology in their survey was different than McLaughlin's, but did not immediately provide examples. What is known is that the PBA encouraged officers to respond to the survey, and about a quarter of their members did. While it is a large, absolute number of respondents, it is also a self-selected group.
The survey is also measuring police officers' perception, and did not include any follow-up questions with empirical data to challenge those perceptions. Pollsters at times ask a voter what his or her attitude is toward a candidate at the beginning of a poll, and then a second time at the end of the poll, after more information is given about that candidate. That did not happen here, the pollster said.
The NYPD and city officials have consistently pointed to a drop in murders, shootings and complaints filed with the Civilian Complaint Review Board as signs of an improving relationship between police and local residents.
De Blasio dismissed the survey on Monday, questioning its methodology and source, saying all he hears from the union are “complaints” rather than solutions.
Bratton gave a different answer, telling reporters he was not “surprised” by the results and that it mirrored what he found earlier. But Bratton stressed that police have gotten more training, more equipment — like smart phones, bullet-proof and vests — and new conflict-resolution training, which should help make their jobs easier. A spokesperson for de Blasio made a similar point Tuesday, saying the moves show the mayor is "aggressively supporting our hardworking officers."
Lynch on Tuesday dismissed many of those as token gestures.
“We gave them phones. We gave them bullet-resistant vests, and we gave them shiny new cars,” Lynch said, echoing remarks from the mayor and police commissioner. Then, Lynch added, “Quite frankly, to give us a bullet-resistant vest is a morale obligation … it doesn’t affect our morale. You’re supposed to be giving that to us,” but “How you affect the morale of New York City police officers … is you pay them as professionals, you treat them as professionals, [and] you defend them as professionals.”