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April 11, 2023, 12:19 PM

PBA head Patrick Lynch won’t seek reelection after years at helm of NYPD’s biggest union

By Thomas Tracy

Firebrand union head Patrick Lynch announced Tuesday that he won’t be seeking reelection as president of the Police Benevolent Association after being in charge for nearly a quarter century.

In an email sent to the PBA membership, Lynch, 59, said that he will be stepping down after his current term as president expires June 30.

Lynch, the longest-serving president of the city’s largest police union, announced his departure after hammering out a new contract between the PBA and the city last week. The PBA had been working without a contract for six years before the deal was reached.

“This decision is part of a philosophy I have long held: a rider cannot switch horses in the middle of a battle, and the PBA must not change leadership in the middle of a contract fight,” Lynch said in his email. “To remain true to my principles, I must allow the change to begin now.”

Lynch has already thrown his support behind current PBA Treasurer Patrick Hendry, who has announced his run for union president, a source with knowledge of the upcoming election said.

Hendry and his team will be going toe to toe against a slate put together by Corey Grable, the union’s Transit Bureau financial secretary, who announced his run for office months ago.

Grable thanked Lynch “for his many years of service” to the union, but said he was “disappointed he attempted to put his finger on the scale of the race to replace him on his way out the door.”

“The men and women of the NYPD are desperate for new leadership, and we must make sure they will not be subjected to more of the same,” Grable said. “I look forward to earning the vote of every single member with my platform of transparency, and I expect a spirited public debate with Mr. Hendry.”

It was not immediately clear if Lynch, who joined the NYPD in January 1984, would retire from the department once he steps down as president.

He will reach mandatory retirement age in 2026, when the PBA will be working on a new contract with the city, Lynch said in his letter.

Lynch wrote that he was stepping down early so the city would not use his aging out “to its advantage at the bargaining table.”

“There is also no telling when another crisis — another natural disaster, another tidal wave of anti-police sentiment — will break out in our city or in our profession,” he wrote to his members. “Transitioning to new PBA leadership under those conditions would not be in our members’ or our union’s best interests.”

The Queens native served six terms as PBA president since he was first elected in 1999. Over the past two decades, his reelections usually ended in landslide victories.

Lynch was planning to run for reelection as recently as February when an all-out brawl broke out at a union meeting after an allegation of theft was made against one of Grable’s running mates.

The NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau is investigating the allegation, which Grable said was a “premeditated, coordinated political attack.”

Other NYPD unions saluted Lynch’s tenure upon his announcement Tuesday.

“Pat has been a fierce advocate for his membership through some very difficult times,” said Lou Turco, the president of the Lieutenants Benevolent Association. “The LBA wishes him all the best in the future.”

During his tenure as president, Lynch has spoken out time and again against paroling cop killers and has pushed for an increase in the official NYPD head count.

He ignited a firestorm of controversy in 2014, when, following the deaths of Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu, he and his members turned their backs on then-Mayor Bill de Blasio at the hospital as the mayor tried to pay his respects to the families of the two murdered cops.

Lynch accused the mayor of failing to support rank-and-file cops and creating an atmosphere that allowed Ramos and Liu to be killed.

“That blood on the hands starts on the steps of City Hall in the office of the mayor,” Lynch said at the time. “When these funerals are over, those responsible will be called on the carpet and held accountable.”

Under Lynch’s leadership, officers also turned their backs on de Blasio when he spoke at the fallen officers’ funerals, as well as at the funeral of Police Officer Miosotis Familia in 2017.

Lynch made headlines — and ruffled a few political feathers — when he and the union endorsed former President Donald Trump for reelection in 2020. It was the first time in the union’s history that it formally backed a presidential candidate, he noted at the time.