Politico New York

08/02/16 09:58 AM EDT


Police protest de Blasio where he lives, PBA vows more to come

By Addy Baird and Azi Paybarah

Members of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, the union that represents rank and file members of the New York Police Department, gathered outside Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Gracie Mansion residence Tuesday morning to call on the mayor to negotiate a new contract with NYPD officers.

Union members also protested outside the Prospect Park YMCA, where de Blasio works out each morning, and a Brooklyn coffee shop the mayor frequents.

The protest began at 7:00 a.m. at Gracie Mansion, where about 50 union members gathered, some holding signs saying “Wake up and pay us,” and “Get to work Mayor de Blasio and pay cops a fair wage.” Approximately 50 more officers gathered in Brooklyn, where the signs were workout-themed -- "Put some sweat into working on our PBA contract" and "'Workout' a contract with cops!"

PBA members have been working without a contract since 2012. New York City PBA president Pat Lynch said the union is asking for a raise of about 34 percent, which he says would make salaries comparable to those in other localities after accounting for higher cost of living here.

“For two years we’ve tried to negotiate and bargain with the mayor, and he refused to do it,” Lynch told reporters outside of Gracie Mansion. “We’re now unfortunately on the way to arbitration once again because the city refuses to negotiate fairly with New York City police officers.”

The mayor left Gracie Mansion just before 7:40 a.m. without interacting with protesters, some of whom followed him to Brooklyn.

Around 8:00 a.m., the mayor sat at a table at Colson’s Patisserie, with a handful of security officials standing in the doorway, so the press was unable to get an unobstructed view of him. Protesters held signs up to the window and yelled — "Pay us now, eat later!" — loud enough for the handful of patrons inside to hear.

On his way across the street to the YMCA, de Blasio smiled, chatted with aides and — wearing a blue t-shirt, khaki shorts and sneakers — walked into the gym, surrounded by police union members yelling at him.

They shouted “One term mayor” and “Pay us now, work out later."

In picking Park Slope, Lynch and the union are challenging de Blasio on his home turf and using his “tale of two cities” rhetoric against him.

There are also two tales playing out simultaneously for the NYPD. While officers are protesting the mayor this morning, Black Lives Matters protesters have taken to City Hall calling for the resignation of Police Commissioner Bill Bratton and an end to his signature Broken Windows policing.

Lynch told reporters that, despite protests, he believes the public is supportive of the police and their call for a pay raise.

“We’re being… criticized for City Hall’s policies,” he said. “Remember, New York City police don’t make policy. We just go out and enforce the policy.”

One Park Slope resident walking out of the Y Tuesday morning, who agreed to be identified as Rob V., told POLITICO New York that he is “very much in favor of the mayor” and that “the police are working very hard.”

He called the schism between de Blasio and the PBA a “microcosm” of the debate nationwide.

Another resident, an older woman who works in education who voted for de Blasio in 2013 and identified herself only as P.L., said, “He’s done some good things, but not enough. … I feel there’s more homeless and the level of imbalance that he talked about. Maybe it was a huge challenge to take that on, but I think it’s gotten worse.”

The woman, who stopped to chat after walking out of the YMCA added, “He’s a very nice man though. Very friendly.”

Looking at the protesters, she said, “There’s more tension with the police and community, but that’s nationwide.”

Dan Goldman, a Park Slope resident who said he had the same trainer as the one used by de Blasio, said of the mayor, “I don’t get the sense that he’s that successful [as] an operative, but I totally agree with his politics.”

Looking at the protesters in front the Y and the mayor’s coffee shop, he said, “I agree the cops should get a raise,” but, he said, the city should also recruit police more selectively.

“I just get the sense they’re are not the most educated or sensitive group of city employees,” Goldman said.

The PBA has had a consistently rocky relationship with de Blasio, and regularly tries to bring public pressure on City Hall — including running TV ads against the mayor — over contract terms.

The last time negotiations went to arbitration, the result was seen as a blow to the union. Some of the arbitrators said they would refuse to get involved in future arbitration involving the PBA, after the union targeted a mediator with unusually personal protests.

Lynch said today that he and his union would continue to show up “from time to time” to pester the mayor.

“After we bring a renaissance to this city and make the public safe, they say, ‘New York City police officers deserve zero raise.’ That’s insulting,” Lynch said.

“We have to start managing the city, not just ruling by press release,” Lynch told reporters at Gracie Mansion. “We need to go back to the time when we had the staffing, the morale, and the equipment to get the job done.”