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Updated: April 11, 2023, 8:27 PM

Patrick Lynch, head of union for rank-and file NYPD cops, to step down

By Matthew Chayes

Patrick Lynch, president of the labor union for rank-and-file NYPD officers, is stepping down after nearly 25 years — a tumultuous quarter-century overlapping with fundamental changes in how the public sees cops.

Lynch's current term expires in June, and he won’t seek a seventh, according to a news release Tuesday from the union, the Police Benevolent Association. He'll age out of the NYPD in 2026, when he reaches the department's mandatory retirement age, said PBA spokesman John Nuthall. Lynch hasn't announced his future plans yet, such as whether he'll return to regular police duty.

No successor was named.

The announcement comes six days after Lynch helped negotiate a 28.25% raise for officers, bringing the pay covering those nearly 23,000 cops to $131,500 per year after 5½ years on the job — before overtime. The contract, which is tentative, stretches over eight years and is retroactive to 2017.

A native of Bayside, Queens, Lynch started working for the NYPD in 1984; he's the longest-serving PBA president. His two sons are both city cops.

Long Island is home to more NYPD cops than anywhere else outside of the city: about 33% of the NYPD’s officers live in Nassau or Suffolk counties, NYPD spokeswoman Sgt. Jessica McRorie told Newsday in 2021. 

Lynch, 59, a pugilistic advocate of police officers under nearly all circumstances, has been the face of the union in the aftermath of dozens of police killings — of cops by civilians, by cops of civilians, and by cops of fellow cops during so-called “friendly fire” encounters. He's championed the cause of cops sickened by toxins at Ground Zero in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, defended those accused of misconduct, been a spokesman for families of slain officers, and opposed parole for the killers and those who helped.

In legislative halls, hospital lobbies, courthouses, on the streets, in the press and before parole boards, Lynch's booming voice has carried the union's message, typically bellowed with righteous dudgeon and without notes. 

Since 1999, when he became president, policing has changed, with the proliferation of cellphone — and then body-worn — cameras to document encounters; unrest, protest and rioting over allegations of police misconduct and brutality; calls to defund the police; the Black Lives Matter movement; and a diminution of trust in the profession.

“Over the last quarter-century-plus, the NYPD has gone from kind of venerated to hated in a lot of circles in New York City, and that obviously has come with a ton of challenges posed by policy as well as by the political environment that the department operates in,” said Rafael Mangual, head of research for policing and public safety at the right-leaning Manhattan Institute.

“But that’s been a challenge for departments across the country," Mangual said. "The NYPD is not unique there.”

Sometimes those national debates resonated in the city. 

In 2004, Lynch helped lead a 1 a.m. protest outside then-Mayor Mike Bloomberg's town house and threatened to picket the looming Republican National Convention, over a contract dispute.

A decade later, in 2014, in the aftermath of protests over the police killing of Eric Garner earlier in the year, and the slaying of two cops by a mentally ill gunman claiming to avenge Garner and put "wings on pigs," Lynch said then-Mayor Bill de Blasio shared blame for the cops’ killing.

“There is blood on many hands, from those that incited violence under the guise of protest to try to tear down what police officers did every day,” Lynch said at the hospital. “That blood on the hands starts on the steps of City Hall in the office of the mayor.” 

Then, at ceremonies for the slain cops, hundreds turned their backs on the mayor.